HOPE, B.C. — The Coquihalla Highway in B.C. is set to open to regular traffic between Hope and Merritt following severe damage from heavy rains.
The province announced the route will open Jan. 19 after being closed in mid November. Flooding and washouts damaged more than 20 sites along 130 kilometres between Hope and Merritt. This included seven bridges where spans completely collapsed or were otherwise heavily damaged. The route was opened to commercial traffic Dec. 20. To achieve this, more than 300 workers using 200 pieces of equipment moved more than 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, rock and other material.
“This will be a much more convenient route for people who need to travel between the Lower Mainland and the Interior, and is another significant milestone in the province’s recovery from the devastating storms,” said officials in a media release.
Crews worked to complete temporary repairs while more permanent work is being planned. This means travel-pattern changes and reduced speed limits, with the trip between Hope and Merritt taking about 45 minutes longer than normal. The province noted the high-mountain route can experience adverse weather and rapidly changing conditions that could require closure with minimal notice.
Electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations at Britton Creek remain unusable. The nearest EV charging stations are in Hope and Merritt. There will continue to be increased enforcement on this route to make sure drivers are obeying the traffic laws and driving according to conditions.
Also on Jan. 19 weight restrictions will be lifted from Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet. However, drivers of large commercial vehicles are discouraged from using this route because of the challenging terrain. The province is recommending only experienced winter drivers travel this route. There is an increased avalanche risk through this corridor, so drivers should be prepared for delays and before travelling should check DriveBC.ca
In the Fraser Canyon, Highway 1 has partially reopened from Kanaka Bar south of Lytton to Spences Bridge. Drivers can expect delays on this section of Highway 1.
Highway 1 between Kanaka Bar and Hope remains closed. Record snowfalls and recent avalanche risks had delayed work around Jackass Mountain. However, crews are back onsite and it is expected the highway will reopen to all vehicle traffic before the end of January.
When Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon reopens, drivers can expect significant delays with additional travel times as long as two hours or longer, depending on the destination. Delays are a result of ongoing repairs, an at-grade train crossing, avalanche control and sections of single-lane alternating traffic, which includes a temporary single-lane bridge at the Jackass Mountain and Nicomen River crossing.
The highway will be open to legal width and weight loading, but loads will be limited to 25 metres in length until the rehabilitation of the highway bridge at Nicomen River is completed.