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Highway 1 through Fraser Valley set to reopen Thursday

Water levels continue to recede, says Transportation Minister Rob Fleming
Shortly after the floods, people who had a boat began shuttling residents where they needed to go | Photo: Stefan Labbé / Glacier Media

After massive flooding on the Fraser Valley's Trans-Canada Highway over the past week, the highway is expected to reopen Thursday.

During Wednesday's press conference, Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming announced crews are currently working to clear debris from the road.

“Some critical temporary repairs have been completed and water levels continue to recede,” Fleming said. “Today our crews are on the flood-affected portion of Highway 1, clearing debris off the road. We're looking to have this road opened at some point tomorrow.”

He did not specify if this portion of the highway, connecting Abbotsford and Chilliwack, will be open for “essential travel” only, as has been mandated on the stretch of Highway 1 between Popkum Road and Hope, and on Highway, 3, 7 and 99.

“We know that people in this region need to travel around, this will provide significant relief and we will keep people updated on that estimated time of opening,” Fleming said.

Currently, Highway 3 east of Hope and Highway 99 north of Pemberton are the two functioning links between the Interior and the coast. Both routes are open to essential travel only, examples of which can be found here. Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon is also open for essential travel from Hope to Boothroyd.

Tuesday evening, the Ministry of Transportation imposed restrictions to Highway 7 west of Agassiz, requiring essential travel only there. This stretch currently connects people in the Lower Mainland to Hope, while Highway 1 remains closed.

“This had to take place, this was necessary because the trucks and supply chains we sought to reactivate were hopelessly congested on Highway 7,” Fleming said. “This was not a decision taken lightly, but we needed to unblock that corridor so that goods could begin to move.”

Further decisions on highway re-openings will take into account the rains that are forecast to fall on B.C.'s coast beginning Wednesday evening.

“Having several destructive storms in a row is not anywhere near normal,” said Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said. "The ground is already saturated which means even a routine storm for this time of year can cause rivers and streams to rise faster and potentially flood.

“The ground is wetter, snowmelt is occurring and some areas are extremely vulnerable due to recent wildfires and droughts.”

The Coquihalla remains closed between Hope and Merritt, after the notorious highway suffered massive damage during the storm earlier this month. While the government has said previously that even temporary repairs to the road would take months, Fleming said Wednesday he hopes to have a Coquihalla-specific briefing with a more detailed timeline “in the coming days.”

A full list of B.C.'s highway closures and reopenings can be found online.

During Wednesday' press conference, Fleming also highlighted several communities who stepped up to support stranded truckers during last week's storm.

“There were several hundred truck drivers essentially trapped throughout the southern interior part of the province, and the response was unbelievable,” he said.

“The thought that communities had for truck drivers who were far from home and facing uncertainty ahead of them, the generosity and the caring that Hope residents showed is a thing of legend now. But this was taking place in other communities as well.”