Gravel trail through the woods

Photo Credit: TranBC

Cowichan Valley Trail is safe again

The new culvert is even fish-friendly

After more than a year, the washout on the Cowichan Trail got fixed

The Cowichan Valley Trail has been repaired.

In January 2020, a huge rainstorm flooded parts of the Cowichan Valley Trail. So much rain fell so fast that it destroyed the culvert at Dry Bend Creek, which left a sinkhole so big no one could pass it safely.

The culvert was built by CN Rail in the 1920s before rebar was common. After 100 years of rain, the concrete bottom of the culvert started to break apart, and then the heavy rains of January 2020 were enough to wash it away.

Fixing the broken culvert was not easy.

The sinkhole was more than 5 kilometres away from roads big enough to bring in construction equipment, and the trestle bridges at 66 and 64.4 Mile were too weak to drive on. The trestle bridges needed to be upgraded before any work on the culvert could start.

Now, one year later, both trestle bridges are strong enough to carry heavy vehicles and the new culvert at Dry Bend Creek contains rebar to make sure it doesn’t fail again. Other upgrades also included a boardwalk and new safety railings from Glenora Trailhead to kilometre three.

Money for the repairs came from the StrongerBC economic recovery plan. This funding goes directly to projects that help people get outside during COVID. Thousands of people from all over the world use the trail every year.

Thousands of fish also use the culvert every year, so the repair work was done when fish were not spawning so they wouldn’t be harmed.

New instruments were installed in the culvert to track water levels in Dry Bend Creek. The creek flows into the Cowichan River, so understanding water levels in the creek can help to get ready for flooding in the future.