When you looked at the damage that torrential rain and flooding did to highways in BC, the first thing that came to mind was it would take months, maybe years, to fix.
Well, how about weeks.
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Coquihalla Highway — which had been ripped apart in several sections — reopens to commercial vehicles. At the same time Hwy. 3 reopens to non-essential travel.
The reopening is ahead of schedule and some of the repairs are temporary, with pattern changes and reduced speed limits in place.
“Having use of the Coquihalla Highway brings more predictability to the movement of goods through British Columbia,” said Dave Earle, president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association.
“This an important step toward restoring our supply chain, and our members appreciate the extraordinary efforts of everyone involved.”
The November storm cause flooding and washouts that resulted in more than 20 repair zones, including seven bridges heavily damaged or collapsed.
“Today’s reopening of the Coquihalla Highway is a testament to the strong working relationship between the BC Road Builders and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Kelly Scott, president of BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association.
More than 300 workers — many from the nearby Trans Canada Mountain pipeline project — using 200 pieces of equipment moved more than 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, rock, and other material to repair and reopen the highway in just 35 days.
“The people who build and maintain roads in B.C. have a reputation second to none, and their response to the recent disaster has been remarkable,” said Rob Fleming, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Ministry teams, maintenance contractors and hundreds of workers going flat out in challenging conditions have allowed us to reopen the Coquihalla Highway today, giving B.C.’s commercial drivers a safe, efficient route between the coast and Interior.”
Since mid-November, the highways have been severely damaged and transportation heavily impacted, many having to take routes much longer or even into the US to move goods.
For some time, every route to the coast from the southern interior was closed.
Travel restrictions have also been lifted on Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet.
Ewa Sudyk is a reporter for the Western Standard.