Major BC highway could reopen this weekend as new photos show huge damage along Coquihalla

Nov 17 2021, 11:03 pm

British Columbia’s Transportation Ministry has released more photos of the broken Coquihalla Highway as officials say the first route re-connecting the Interior to the Lower Mainland likely won’t open until the weekend.

A record-breaking atmospheric river caused devastating floods and mudslides that left Metro Vancouver cut off from the rest of the province, and groceries are running out in communities that usually rely on goods shipments from the coast.

Entire chunks of major highways were washed away, and on Tuesday the government released more photos of a bridge on the Coquihalla that collapsed into a river.

The Coquihalla is one major route connecting the Interior to the Coast, and it remains closed between Hope and Merritt. Earlier, a witness shared photos of another section that appeared to be washed away near the Othello Tunnels.

Devastating damage to Trans Canada Highway

A section of the Trans Canada Highway near Lytton, BC, that passes under a railway track was also washed away by a mudslide.

trans canada highway washed away

BC Transportation/Twitter

There’s no estimated reopening time for that route.

Highway 1 is also closed in the Fraser Valley due to massive flooding in Abbotsford.

abbotsford

An aerial view of the Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford on Tuesday morning (City of Abbotsford/Twitter).

Highway 3 could be the first to reopen

BC officials say that Highway 3, sometimes called the Crowsnest Highway, could be open to emergency vehicles as early as this weekend.

The route connects BC’s Southern Interior to the Lower Mainland via Hope.

There’s still work to be done, though. Transportation BC shared photos Wednesday of sections of Highway 3 with mud, trees, and a river flowing over the road.

Highway 7 expected to open for emergency vehicles later today

Transport Minister Rob Fleming said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that crews had cleared emergency access along Highway 7 west of Agassiz. Construction crews are still working to clear debris east of Agassiz toward Hope, and they expect to have one lane open by Wednesday afternoon.

Fleming was clear that the road should only be used for emergency purposes, such as rescuing livestock, transporting pump equipment, or bringing in food.

“If you’re safe and secure, stay where you are,” he said. “Keep any travel in impacted areas in your regions to only that which is absolutely essential.”

Approximately 100 vehicles were trapped between two landslides along Highway 7 between Johnson Slough Rest Area and Ruby Creek Sunday evening. They had to sleep in their cars before being rescued by a military helicopter on Monday.

Highway 99 still closed south of Lillooet

The mudslide that killed one woman and is thought to have swept up two others north of Pemberton still has the highway closed in both directions.

Fleming said crews believe the pavement is intact and have started clearing work as of Wednesday.

No travel unless absolutely necessary: Minister

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth urged people to cancel recreational travel plans while BC’s highway system is “crippled.”

“I encourage everyone not to travel unless it is essential. It’s not the time for travel for leisure purposes.”

While highway and rail lines are down, CN Rail has been flying in some goods to isolated communities by helicopter. The province has also delivered cots and food supplies to Hope, BC, where approximately 1,200 people are stranded.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

+ News
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT