The Impact of the 2013 Flood in Kananaskis

See the report on the flood of 2013 in Bragg Creek

Photo Gallery of the Elbow Valley Bridge

Important Note: The Elbow Valley bridge on Hwy 66 near Allen Bill opened a single lane, traffic light controlled bridge on Aug 2. just in time for the Heritage Day holiday weekend. That was the first time most people had to get in and see what damage had been done during the Flood of June 20-23.

Click here to see photos of the Elbow Valley after the flood.

See photos of the flood impact in West Bragg Creek

Elbow Valley Bridge BrokenThe Elbow Valley, with about 1/2-million visitors per year, is the most popular recreation area in Alberta. When those people couldn't access the trails, campgrounds, waterways and outdoor experiences they are accustomed to - that was a serious issue. Elbow Falls alone is always a popular destination and you couldn't get there as of June 20. Due to a washout, the access to the bridge spanning the Elbow River on Highway 66 near Allen Bill Pond, you couldn't get beyond the turnoff to McLean Creek. All trails, including the Powderface Trail Road, the trailheads, recreation areas, campgrounds and Kananskis Country facilities were closed. Volker Stevin built a temporary bridge alongside the broken bridge. The abutment at the east (Bragg Creek) end of the main bridge has been seriously damaged. Repairing that and finding a solution to deal with the flow of the river will be challenging, but Alberta Transportation plans to have the bridge repaired before winter.

Now that the bridge is open we can get in to see the damage done the two most popular attractions in the valley, Allen Bill and Elbow Falss have been seriously wrecked. Fixing them may be impossible, at least extremely difficult and expensive.

highway 66 bridge

The bridge was completely repaired and opened to the public in the spring of 2014

 

Bragg Creek Provincial Park is open, but you can't get there through the hamlet. You have to travel west on Highway 66 for a couple of kilometres then turn right on Highway 758. There are picnic areas and outdoor toilets. Repair work on highway 758 was finished in mid September, 2013.

 

NOTE: The West Bragg Creek bridge to the Recreation Area was reopened on Thursday evening, July 11, 3013

 

This map shows the location of the facilities along Hwy66 in the Elbow River Valley

Elbow Valley Map

Links of interest:

Flood Damage Photo Map

Map of Kananaskis Closed Areas (including highways)

What's Open and Closed in Bragg Creek

Elbow Valley Bridge photo gallery

The bridge itself appears undamaged, but the embankment and road on the east side of the bridge, near Allen Bill Pond has been washed away. How are they going to restore the approach to withstand future floods? And are they going to rebuild the dam that forms Allen Bill Pond when they recently replaced it after the flood of 2005. We need to figure out a new way to manage this Man vs Nature conflict.
The bridge itself appears undamaged, but the embankment and road on the east side of the bridge, near Allen Bill Pond has been washed away. How are they going to restore the approach to withstand future floods? And are they going to rebuild the dam that forms Allen Bill Pond when they recently replaced it after the flood of 2005. We need to figure out a new way to manage this Man vs Nature conflict.
  • The bridge itself appears undamaged, but the embankment and road on the east side of the bridge, near Allen Bill Pond has been washed away. How are they going to restore the approach to withstand future floods? And are they going to rebuild the dam that forms Allen Bill Pond when they recently replaced it after the flood of 2005. We need to figure out a new way to manage this Man vs Nature conflict.
  • The bridge over the Elbow River on Highway 66 in Kananaskis is seriously damaged. Without the bridge it is impossible to get to any of the features and facilities located in the Elbow Valley. Elbow Falls, Allen Bill Pond, Forgetmenot Pont, the Little Elbow Recreation Area, Moose Mountain trailhead, all of the campgrounds, and trails that make up the most popular recreation area in all of Alberta.
  • The block on the right is the begining of the abutment for the temporary span. There will be long lines waiting for the single lane access on weekends.
  • This is the temporary, single lane, bridge span they are installing alongside the broken bridge. It may have limited access for industry and Kananaskis officials who have work to do down the Elbow Valley. There are pipelines, flares, a compressor station, SRD Fire Prevention base, Conservation Officer and maintenance facilities down there. There is also a lot of damage to be repaired.
  • Volker Stevin workers are installing a new temporary bridge beside the broken one. When I was there I could see a lady and her pickup on the other side of the broken bridge. I assume she's there by choice.
  • This is a big project and they don't want you to get near it. The temporary bridge should be in place quickly (mid-July?), but the highway won't be open any time soon.
  • The road is closed at the turnoff for McLean Creek. You can still access the McLean Creek Off-Highway Vehicle Zone and the Campground
  • Highway 66 is closed and no parking is allowed at the road closure. You can get to the Tourist Info Centre, Gooseberry Campground and McLean Creek, but no further into the Elbow Valley
  • This is the point where McLean Creek runs into the Elbow River. There is a newly popular parking area nearby where fishermen park.

 

 

Damage done in West Bragg Creek - Photo Gallery

During and after the flood showing the eastern abutment of the bridge over the Bragg Creek in the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area. Workers are shoring up the embankment.
During and after the flood showing the eastern abutment of the bridge over the Bragg Creek in the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area. Workers are shoring up the embankment.
  • During and after the flood showing the eastern abutment of the bridge over the Bragg Creek in the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area. Workers are shoring up the embankment.
  • The workers replaced the black boards located behind the vertical metal beams. This is a retaining wall holding the embankment. Next they'll "armour" the abutment with a pile of crushed rock boulders.
  • Amongst all the damage there is still beauty to be found.
  • While the bridge is repaired, you can fjord the creek using a temporary board crossing.
  • The last step completed before reopening the bridge on Thur. July 11 was armouring the seriously eroded bank with crushed rock boulders.
  • The ditch beside the Mountain Road just past the Moose Loop Connectior has been seriously eroded.
  • The trail near the parking lot leading to the Sundog Loop and all the southern trails has a huge gash in it due to a washout.
  • The gash in the previous image has a narrow path with a pile of logs to allow access around what is actually an enclosed pit with water.
  • A new feature in the spring of 2013 are the clearcuts adjacent to the Mountain Road (foreground) and the larger one adjacent to the Telephone Loop (in the distance).
  • A noticeable impact of the flood is the clean creek and river beds. All the dead wood and brush has been flushed away along with a lot of the embankment.
  • The debris that got flushed downstream piles up on bends in the creek and often got carried deep into the forest.
  • Many roadways have deep pits gouged out and piles of gravel end up in the forest or in ditches further along the road.
  • This washed out culvert is on the Sundog Loop. Most of that trail is intact.
  • Camping beside roads and trails in Kananaskis isn't allowed, but they are making an allowance for the workers who are doing emergency repairs.
  • West Bragg Creek didn't suffer too much damage, but this mud and rock slide is characteristic of the kind of damage done.
  • There is no place to turn around a trailer at the blocked bridge, so they must turn around and park at the Texas Gate.
  • While the bridge is under repair there will be long lines of cars parked along the roadside.
  • With the bridge reopened and the Elbow Valley bridge still closed, there was a caotic scene in the parking lot with cars spilling out onto the road.

 

A short video showing the footbridge over Bragg Creek in the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area of Kananaskis during the flood of 2013

 

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