B.C.'s Coquihalla Highway could open to commercial traffic by January 2022: minister

As work gets started, there is now a better understanding of the scale of repairs needed on the flood-damaged Coquihalla Highway, along with a rough estimate of when the vital route will reopen to commercial traffic. Richard Zussman reports.

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation said Thursday they are cautiously optimistic that commercial traffic could be moving on the Coquihalla Highway in about two months’ time, by late January.

However, Rob Fleming said it is a daunting, uphill task and one that will be contingent on the weather and future storms.

About 20 sites along Highway 5, which is the main highway connecting the Lower Mainland and the Interior, were damaged or washed away during the storm from Nov. 13 to 15.

This is about 130 kilometres that have been affected, Fleming added.

Five bridges have either collapsed or heavily damaged.

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Fleming said the good news is work has begun to restore temporary fixes.

There are currently three sites along the highway where crews are blasting rocks and the government is mobilizing equipment to another two sites.

At the Jessica Bridge, they are installing a temporary bridge.

Crews are building construction access across the bridge near the Carolin Mine Road.

In the Bottle Top area, crews are installing a temporary bridge.

At the Brodie Siding Road, crews are protecting abutments in the area, Fleming added.

Work is also taking place in the rivers in order to prevent erosion and reroute some of the waterways.

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Fleming said when the Coquihalla Highway can be opened to commercial traffic, there will be two segments, about 20 to 30 kilometres in length, where speed will be reduced and it will be one lane in each direction.

It is too soon to say when other passenger service would be allowed to travel on the highway.

Work continues across many roadways and sites across B.C., which Fleming said is easily more than 200 in total.

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