According to the news and newspaper this morning, crews will begin closing Highway 75 today. We will be watching the Winnipeg Free Press Livecam on our Flood Watch 2011 page to see the progress on the dike and closure.
Winnipeg Free Press:
Water set to swamp vital route
Highway 75 to U.S. in peril; Assiniboine causing grief
The flood will close Manitoba's main route to the United States as early as today, and ice jams on the Assiniboine are threatening dikes near St. Eustache.
Crews are slated to begin closing Highway 75 at Morris today, about a week after the province originally estimated the flood-plagued highway might become impassable.
Crews will begin "ramping" the dike by building it up with gravel and closing the highway at Morris to all but local traffic. That's in preparation for full closure, which could also happen as early as today, said Manitoba Water Stewardship's Steve Topping.
Already on Sunday, one northbound lane of the busy trade highway was closed near St. Jean Baptiste due to water on the shoulder.
The province said it's monitoring the highway hourly, hoping to keep it open as long as it's safe. In 2009, the road was closed for 36 days, which was about average for a flood year. That closure added $1.5 million a week to the cost of trucking goods back and forth between Canada and the United States, the Manitoba Trucking Association estimated at the time.
At their daily briefing, provincial flood experts said ice jams along the Assiniboine between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg are another cause for worry.
"We're starting to see significant impacts on the Assiniboine," said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton, who is also in charge of emergency measures.
The Portage Diversion is maxed out, taking as much water as it can out of the Assiniboine and funnelling it into Lake Manitoba.
Several large ice jams along the Assiniboine between Poplar Point and the Baie St. Paul bridge near St. Eustache have forced water over new, higher dikes in some places. But crews are following the flow of the ice jam -- which moves about as fast as a person can walk -- and shoring up the dike as they go by adding extra soil on top. So far, no properties have been affected by water overtopping the dike.
The province has an Amphibex ice-cutting machine at the ready in Portage la Prairie but is trying to determine whether it can access the ice jams.
Another concern: Water is seeping under the sand seam of the dike on the north side of the river. Crews are checking whether the leaks are serious enough to warrant the construction of a backup dike.
Once the ice jams break up, Winnipeg could see a short spike in water levels along the Assiniboine. Levels could rise one to 1.5 feet.
The province will update the flood forecast on the Red today to account for the snow that fell over the weekend.
The crests of the two rivers, the Red and the Assiniboine, are still due in Winnipeg at about the same time, between April 27 and May 3.
"This is not even the end of the beginning," said Ashton.
This year's flood covers the largest area in Manitoba's history.