Thirteen months after catastrophic flooding wiped out several sections, the Coquihalla Highway reached an impressive milestone this week with all four lanes being reopened to traffic.
Several sections of the highway between Hope and Merritt were destroyed, along with seven bridges that collapsed or were heavily damaged, when unrelenting rain and flooding soaked parts of southern B.C. last November.
The highway was closed on Nov. 14, 2021, and remained that way until Dec. 20, 2021, when enough repair work was completed to allow at least the slow movement of traffic.
Over the next year, repairs continued, with some damaged sections featuring just one lane of traffic.
On Friday, though, the Ministry of Transportation announced that all four lanes were now open.
“This is another momentous achievement as we rebuild our highways following last year’s storms,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“By reopening the Coquihalla to four lanes, we’re increasing safety and reducing congestion. This is great news for people, industry and the provincial economy as we head into another busy travel season.”
The ministry says recently completed work includes new temporary bridges for southbound traffic at the Bottletop and Jessica bridge sites, and a bridge for northbound traffic at the Juliet bridge site that will serve as the permanent southbound crossing.
The ministry says repair work will continue this coming winter and well into 2023 to complete permanent repairs.
“The area remains a construction zone and drivers can expect to see ongoing speed and traffic-pattern changes,” said the ministry.
In getting the Coquihalla reopened on Dec. 20, 2021, more than 300 workers 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 a reminder, the ministry noted that winter driving conditions are in effect for B.C.’s mountain passes, and that motorists should be travelling with a full tank of fuel, food, water and warm clothes in case of an emergency.