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Heavily damaged Coquihalla expected to re-open in late January

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said roughly 130km of the highway need repairs
Emil Anderson Maintenance and Kiewit crews working to remove the damaged jump span on the Coquihalla’s Jessica Bridge. (BC Transportation photo)

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said at a Nov. 25 news conference that the Coquihalla Highway is expected to re-open to essential commercial traffic in late January.

The route, which is the fastest to get from the Lower Mainland to the Interior, has been damaged or washed away at 20 sites and five bridges have collapsed or sustained heavy damage. Fleming said roughly 130km of the Coquihalla will need to be repaired.

“This is going to be a daunting task to get the highway operational but I am pleased to report the work has begun.”

When the highway does re-open, it won’t be business as usual. Fleming cautioned that any re-opening will be subject to weather conditions. The Coquihalla will have two segments, each 20-30km in length where speeds will be reduced and only one lane in each direction will be open.

Over 100 pieces of equipment are working around the clock to repair the highway and rock blasting is underway at three sites. Fleming added that cleanup has been completed at two large debris flow sites.

Work is underway at the Jessica bridge to install a temporary crossing while the collapsed bridge is demolished. Construction access has been established to the Caroline bridge. Crews are working to install a temporary crossing at the Bottletop bridge. Efforts are being made to protect the abutments of the Brody bridge as well.

“We’re also conducting in river work. This is happening at many sites to prevent further erosion and properly channel water back under the main spans,” Fleming said.

More information about what drivers can expect will be available as work progresses.

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