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B.C.’s Coquihalla Highway to reopen Dec. 20 for essential traffic

Temporary access while major reconstruction is completed

B.C.’s Highway 5 Coquihalla route is being opened for essential commercial travel by the end of the day Monday, Dec. 20, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Wednesday.

Commercial trucks and inter-city buses will be allowed through temporary access lanes while major reconstruction work is engineered and completed to reinforce the damaged areas, Fleming said Dec. 15.

There will be several speed reductions and one lane each way in damaged sections, and no power along the highway for snowsheds and chain-up areas.

Repairs are continuing to damage at more than 20 sites on the Coquihalla, spread over about 130 km between Hope and Merritt where torrential mid-November rains triggered landslides and washed out bridge footings. As of Wednesday, there were 300 people and 200 pieces of equipment at work on the Coquihalla, including paving crews, which don’t usually resurface highways in winter conditions.

Work continues on major rockslide and water damage in the Highway 1 Fraser Canyon route north of Hope as well, with that on target for resumption of truck and other essential traffic by mid-January. While both routes are out, Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton serves as the only road link from the Lower Mainland to the B.C. Interior, and it continues to be restricted to essential traffic only.

Fleming said the essential traffic order will be lifted for Highway 3 within 24 hours after the Coquihalla opens for trucks and takes some of the essential traffic off what is now the only highway route to the B.C. Interior.

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