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A billion-dollar fix: The cost of repairing B.C. highways after the 2021 floods

One billion dollars.

That’s how much it’s estimated to cost for permanent repairs to B.C.’s highways after last November’s disastrous floods.

Along the Coquihalla Highway alone, there were six bridges where spans completely collapsed or suffered severe damage, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

On Highway 8, the storms caused seven kilometres of highway to wash away.

There’s no timeline for when all repairs will be complete.

“Some of those timelines are difficult to estimate very precisely right now, because we’re trying to award contracts to construction companies,” said Transportation Minister Rob Flemming.

“Weather can play a little bit of havoc on construction timelines,” he added.

Temporary repairs across the province have cost an estimated $240 million, including over $100 million for Highway 8, $45 to $55 million for Highway 5 and $30 to $40 million for Highway 1, according to the ministry.

The damage from torrential rains last November was staggering.

“It was just a disaster that we had never seen before,” said Dave Earle, president of the B.C. Trucking Association.

The damage caused highways, which serve as critical lifelines between B.C. and the rest of the country, to be shut down.

“We had hundreds of vehicles stranded, loads that couldn’t get where they were going,” recalled Earle who said the highway shutdowns are estimated to have cost the trucking industry tens of millions of dollars.

“Overnight, we lost over 80 per cent of our capacity to move goods east and west and north and south in British Columbia.”

He said for some drivers, the financial strain proved too much.

“Particularly for smaller operators, and for some of them, this was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back,” Earle said.

Remarkably, the Coquihalla reopened to commercial traffic in 35 days and to regular vehicle traffic a couple months after the floods.

“Nobody thought we would be back that quickly,” Earle said.

A temporary fix on Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge only opened last week.

Earle said there are still bottlenecks on the Coquihalla, but they won’t be fixed until the spring. Top Stories

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