B.C. closing parts of Highways 1, 3 and 99 on Saturday over weather concerns
Update, Nov. 27: The ministry announced late Saturday morning that closures would begin at 2 p.m. Read more here. The original story follows.
The B.C. government has announced it is "proactively closing" parts of Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday as the province braces for the next atmospheric river.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said the closures will impact Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton, Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, and Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon.
"The exact time and duration of closures will depend on the weather," the ministry said in a news release.
"The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms, and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk."
Officials said the closures will be re-evaluated Sunday morning, and routes will be re-opened as they are deemed safe.
In addition to those closures, Highway 1 between Popkum and Hope is being shut down Saturday afternoon for scheduled reservoir releases that will send water rushing toward parts of the highway that were impacted during last week's storm.
The Ministry of Transportation said further damage is expected on the highway, but that the releases are "crucial to protect the Jones Lake Reservoir, which is also being affected by the heavy rains."
"Crews will undertake assessment when it is safe to do so, and equipment will be on standby for repairs," the ministry said.
On Friday, multiple crashes closed part of Highway 3, the Crowsnest Highway, in both directions. The stretch was already only open to essential travel, such as commercial vehicles carrying essential goods and previously stranded travellers trying to get home.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming called the accidents a good reminder to all drivers to "please slow down, to be attentive, to be patient."
"Crews are continuing to repair and upgrade corridors and conditions are far from normal," Fleming said Friday morning.
The Coquihalla Highway and Highway 8 also remain closed.
Addressing the ongoing repairs to major routes damaged during last week's storm, Fleming said there's "no question" they'll be rebuilt better than before.
"Our infrastructure will be rebuilt to withstand the new climate realities that we find ourselves in," he said.
On Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon, seven different areas were impacted, four of which suffered major damage.
The province has estimated temporary repairs will be completed by mid-January.
"It will be very restricted traffic flow with some single-lane sections and at-grade rail crossing that will be temporary but will allow for the safe passage of vehicles," Fleming said.
The minister also gave an update on Highway 8, which he said "was largely destroyed" in last week's storm. Twenty different areas saw significant damage, including four bridges.
"The Nicola River has literally carved a new path, washing away large sections of the highway in the process," he added.
"About five or six kilometres of roadway is completely gone and another 20 kilometres has been significantly damaged."
The province is working with local Indigenous leaders to restore temporary access as soon as possible, Fleming said.
Ongoing road updates are available on DriveBC's road advisory page.
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