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Coquihalla Highway will take months to rebuild from mud and rockslide damage

The most effective route connecting Okanagan and Lower Mainland faced extensive damage from flood
Damage caused by heavy rains and mudslides earlier in the week is pictured along the Coquihalla Highway near Hope, B.C., Thursday, November 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The province has confirmed it will take months to repair the highly popular highway that connects the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to the rest of B.C.

The Coquihalla Highway was one of the most damaged in the recent flooding in several areas. That highway, along with Highways 3, 8, 11 and 99 have remained closed due to mud and rockslides since Monday.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said five areas of concern have been identified on the Coquihalla and there is no timeline for when temporary repairs might be completed. Highway 8 experienced the most significant damage and crews are working to assess conditions there.

Highway 7 to Hope is open for essential travel. Traffic will be single-lane alternating and delays are expected due to congestion. Crews are working to clear debris from Highway 3 to get it reopened. Fleming said it’s feasible that Highway 3 could be open for emergency and essential travel by this weekend.

Progress on the Malahat Highway 1 on Vancouver Island has gone better than expected and the road will be open 24 hours a day to single-lane alternating traffic.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham confirmed that there are ample supplies of food and urged people not to panic-buy or hoard supplies. Once supply routes are reopened, priority will be given to essential traffic and commercial vehicles.

Farnworth said further details on what travel restrictions will be announced Friday (Nov. 19).

The total cost of rebuilding critical infrastructure is expected to be staggering. Farnworth would not hazard an estimate on the cost but committed to rebuilding.

“We’re going to come out of this. We’re going to build a stronger, better province and a stronger, better country.”

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