B.C. highways damaged by floods in November were temporarily repaired and opened within a few weeks, but now the B.C. government plans to make permanent repairs to the Coquihalla (Highway 5) and Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon this year.
"Following the extraordinary work that was done to reconnect these highways in December, we're building back permanent infrastructure that will be equipped to better withstand the impacts of climate change and future extreme weather events,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming, Minister.
The B.C. government has awarded KEA5, a joint venture between Peter Kiewit & Sons and Emil Anderson Construction, a contract to repair the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt. The work will include restoring four lanes at three key areas:
- Bottletop Bridges, 50 kilometres south of Merritt;
- Juliet Bridges, three kilometres south of Bottletop; and
- Jessica Bridges, 48 kilometres south of Juliet.
The work is expected to take until the end of this year to complete.
“All efforts will be made to minimize traffic disruptions during peak travel hours, and crews will work overnight when possible,” says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
However, travellers are warned that they should expect delays on the highways.
“Traffic delays are expected throughout construction on all highway reinstatement projects, including periods of single-lane alternating traffic and short, intermittent full closures,” the ministry said.
As for the section of Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, contracts have not yet been awarded. A request for proposals has gone out to repair three key sections:
- Falls Creek Bridge, 55 kilometres south of Spences Bridge;
- Tank Hill Crossing, 23 kilometres south of Spences Bridge; and
- Nicomen River Bridge, 19 kilometres south of Spences Bridge.
The ministry hasn’t said what the budget for the permanent repairs is. Asked what the cost of the permanent repairs are estimated to be, the ministry admitted it doesn't know yet.
"We will have more cost details once the design phase is completed this summer," a ministry spokesperson said, in response to questions from BIV News. "We anticipate the cost to fully repair the Coquihalla to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars."