Two of BC’s major highways connecting the Lower Mainland and the Interior could reopen earlier than initially forecast, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming announced Thursday.
Fleming now predicts the Coquihalla Highway will open to essential traffic in early January, which is weeks earlier than the initial projected opening date in late January.
When the Coquihalla reopens to essential traffic, Highway 3 will change its status from essential-only to allowing recreational travel.
In addition, Highway 1 could be ready for some vehicles by the middle of January.
The accelerated openings are thanks to faster-than-predicted repair work that crews accomplished during relatively dry weather in the past few weeks.
Huge sections of the two highways were ripped away during a record-breaking atmospheric river in November. Landslides washed away chunks of road and rushing rivers collapsed bridges in multiple places.
The initial temporary repairs will allow the highways to reopen in January, but permanent repairs will take much longer.
“It won’t be the same Coquihalla,” Fleming said of the road drivers should expect in January.
In the meantime, Highway 3 is the only open highway to the Interior beyond Hope that’s become a key route for transporting commercial goods. An incoming storm this weekend is forecast to batter the area Highway 3 traverses, and Fleming urged drivers to be cautious.