B.C. to focus on reopening roads after flood chaos

by Today's Trucking

The B.C. government said getting road and rail back up and in operation is a top priority as it declared a provincial state of emergency on Wednesday.

The decision was made to mitigate impacts on transportation networks and movement of essential goods and supplies, and to support the provincewide response and recovery from the widespread damage caused by severe flooding and landslides, the government said on its website.

Highway 5 - Coquihalla -Sowaqua Bridge. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Highway 5 – Coquihalla -Sowaqua Bridge. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

The state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.

“Our focus is on clearing, repairing and reopening roads to connect the Interior and the North to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, to get our supply chains moving,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “We are working closely with multiple partners to make this happen. It is a big job, but collectively we are up to the challenge and will get things opened up again just as soon as we possibly can.”

Repairs to Highway 1 at Tunnel Hill on the Malahat have progressed well, and no further overnight closures are needed, the government said Thursday.

Repairs will continue through the weekend. While work is underway, drivers can expect single-lane alternating traffic with some intermittent closures to assist fuel tankers and emergency services through the site.

With favorable weather, emergency repairs should be completed by end of day Nov. 22, when two-way traffic may resume.

Highway 1 in Abbotsford under water. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Highway 1 in Abbotsford under water. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is opening Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz for commercial vehicles.

One lane was opened westbound for commercial vehicles as of 10 a.m., Thursday.  

The intent of this opening is to allow those commercial drivers stranded in Hope and area to make their way toward the Lower Mainland.

Following this evacuation of commercial vehicles westbound from Hope, Highway 7 will be closed again between Agassiz and Hope so crews can continue to work on the highway. However, emergency services vehicles will continue to have access.

The ministry hopes to have Highway 7 open to single-lane alternating traffic for all vehicles between Hope and Agassiz later Thursday.

Malahat Tunnel Hill under repair  (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Malahat Tunnel Hill under repair. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

The B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) on Friday said Highway 3 has sustained the least amount of damage amongst the east-west corridors. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure continues to advise it will be the first route to be able to be reopened for emergency and essential goods movements only, perhaps by the end of the weekend.

As Highway 3 and Highway 7 open, it is critical that carriers ensure their drivers are well stocked on supplies, fuel and chains to transport these roads which is expected to be very slow moving with multiple stoppages to allow for movement of emergency vehicles, BCTA said.

The association says it has engaged the Canada Border Security Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to explore the option of in-transit goods movement from a border crossing in the interior to Pacific Highway.

Meanwhile, the marine terminals at the Port of Vancouver are still operating, while the facility is experiencing significantly disrupted rail and truck movement.

CN and CP main rail corridors are not currently operational between Vancouver and Kamloops due to washouts and landslides, the port said in a news release Wednesday.

Owner-operator Robbie told Today’s Trucking that some drivers he knows that haul containers from CN are home due to lack of work. “The railcars are not coming, so it is going to slow down a bit,” he said.

Highway 5 – Coquihalla at Juliet. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Jared Bragg, VP/GM of Chilliwack-based Triton Transport said on LinkedIn, “We are okay, and persevering. Most of our staff is home, and safe – a handful of drivers are stuck in and around the floods, but we are starting to see progress that will get them home soon.”

He said, “We are helping the recovery if and when we can, while trying to remain out of the way for first responders. Right now, trucks aren’t very useful to the recovery actions.”

Meng Lai, CFO of 18 Wheels Warehousing and Trucking said since flooding has halted rail services to and from the Port of Vancouver, the company needs to re-route shipments by truck from Vancouver across the U.S. border in bond and then back up to Alberta and Ontario. The company has taken up additional warehouse space to accommodate for the extra congestion of freight in Vancouver. 

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