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Coquihalla Highway post-flood reconstruction to begin this summer

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Documenting destruction along the Coquihalla River' B.C. floods: Documenting destruction along the Coquihalla River
A man and his family living along the Coquihalla River have decided to document the destruction caused by flooding in the area. Aaron McArthur reports – Nov 22, 2021

Construction on flood-ravaged portions of the Coquihalla Highway in B.C., is expected to get underway this summer, with a plan to permanently return the busy roadway back to its previous four-lane capacity by year’s end.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a news release Thursday that a request for proposals has been issued, inviting already pre-approved companies to vie for the contract to design and construct permanent repairs needed at three sites along the embattled highway. Those sites are Bottletop Bridges, 50 kilometres south of Merritt; Juliet Bridges, three kilometres south of Bottletop; and Jessica Bridges, 48 kilometres south of Juliet.

Read more: B.C. family stranded by floods shares powerful images of Coquihalla Highway damage

The RFP for the repair project closes in mid-April with the contract expected to be awarded in late April or early May. Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed by the end of 2022.

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Click to play video: 'Coquihalla Highway reopens to general public' Coquihalla Highway reopens to general public
Coquihalla Highway reopens to general public – Jan 19, 2022

Completion of these projects will not only return the roadway to permanent four-lane traffic capability, it will also allow them to withstand future extreme weather events, the province said.

The ministry will also be proceeding in the coming months with the repair of the Othello washout area 10 kilometers east of Hope. A tender package will be prepared and made available for contractors. The ministry is focused on permanent repair efforts on these four Coquihalla sites as a first priority, as they have been operating with temporary repairs following November’s flooding.

Read more: B.C. lays out $2.1 billion in spending to recover from floods and fires

The ministry is also working toward making permanent repairs to the other flood-damaged highways in B.C., including Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon and Highway 8 in the Nicola Valley. More information on those projects will be shared in the coming weeks.

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Click to play video: 'First look at Coquihalla repairs' First look at Coquihalla repairs
First look at Coquihalla repairs – Dec 10, 2021

In November 2021, the Coquihalla was shut down as B.C. saw unprecedented flooding.

Read more: Damage and repairs could make B.C. floods Canada’s most expensive natural disaster

An “atmospheric river” brought two days of heavy rain to already-sodden soil while high temperatures pushed stream beds beyond their capacity while the snow melted.

Flooding and washouts associated with the November rain event damaged more than 20 sites along 130 kilometres of the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt. This included seven bridges where spans completely collapsed or were otherwise heavily damaged.

Click to play video: 'Flood-devastated B.C. farmers and ranchers await agri-recovery program details' Flood-devastated B.C. farmers and ranchers await agri-recovery program details
Flood-devastated B.C. farmers and ranchers await agri-recovery program details – Feb 6, 2022

Almost 15,000 people were forced from their homes, major roads and bridges washed away and farms flooded in up to two metres of water. Landslides killed at least five people.

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Insured losses have been estimated at $450 million.

Highway 5 was opened to commercial vehicle traffic on Dec. 20, 2021, and opened to all traffic on Jan. 19, 2022.

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