B.C. lifting Highway 7 restrictions Monday, others could remain through holidays
The travel restrictions limiting traffic on Highway 7 through B.C.'s Fraser Valley have been lifted, but others could remain in place through the holidays.
The busy route was reopened to non-essential travel on Monday afternoon, marking the first time in weeks that commuters have been able to use Highway 7 between Mission and Hope.
"Although Highway 1 is open for general vehicle traffic, with restrictions removed, traffic volumes on Highway 7 will increase," the Ministry of Transportation said in a news release. "Drivers are reminded to use caution, obey signs, speed limits and the direction of any traffic-control personnel."
Officials also thanked the crews who "worked tireless" to remove debris and repair roads leading up to Monday's reopening.
Restrictions remain in effect on a number of other routes impacted by recent catastrophic storms, including Highway 99 and Highway 3.
Fleming said there are no immediate plans to allow non-essential traffic on either of those two major highways. He described Highway 3 as "crucial" to maintaining the province's current supply chain.
"For now, the safest way to have it continue as a priority for our supply chain and our economy and making sure that communities have the goods that they need is to keep the travel orders in effect and prioritize commercial trucks," the minister added.
Between Highway 3 and a temporary route through Washington state negotiated with U.S. officials, 10,000 trucks have moved much-needed supplies across southern B.C., according to the province.
Fleming couldn't confirm if Highway 3 will reopen by Christmas, but said the government is working with the airline industry to have additional flights from the Vancouver, Victoria and Abbotsford airports scheduled into the Interior.
"The airline industry is obviously interested in seeing what kind of additional regional and holiday service they can provide," he said. "We'll keep updating on what the industry is doing in terms of adding flights that might be able to help people with their holiday plans."
There's also no date scheduled to remove the weight limit on Highway 99. Fleming stressed that the route is safe, having been inspected multiple times over recent weeks, but said larger vehicles are still having a "tough time" navigating the highway.
Earlier on Monday, Highway 11 was reopened for passenger vehicles with a single lane in each direction between Abbotsford and Mission. B.C.'s Transportation Ministry said only the southbound lanes are currently being used and the northbound lanes will remain closed until the highway can be fixed.
Even on routes that have been reopened, conditions are often far from normal. In some areas, reduced speed limits are in place.
Drivers have also been warned to watch for snowy conditions in parts of the province Monday. Some parts of the Lower Mainland could see as much as 10 centimetres accumulate, while parts of Vancouver Island could see 25 centimetres, according to a special weather statement.
As of Monday, here's what drivers need to know, according to the Ministry of Transportation. A full list of major road closures is available on DriveBC's website.
- Open between Exit 90 and Exit 109 (Abbotsford to Chilliwack) but drivers are warned to expect slow traffic with reduced speed limits. Commercial vehicles over 63,500 kg aren't permitted.
- Open between Exit 138 and Exit 165 (Hope to east of Chilliwack) but drivers are warned to expect delays with some sections with single-lane in each direction.
- Open with travel advisory between Exit 170 and Kahmoose Road (south of Jackass Mountain Summit to Hope).
- Closed between Junction Highway 12 and Junction Highway 8 (Lytton to Spences Bridge) due to rock slide.
- Closed between Kahmoose Road and Main Street (Lytton to south of Jackass Mountain Summit) due to flooding and mudslide.
- Open between Hazelwood Avenue and Clayburn Road for passenger and emergency vehicles only. No left turn onto Highway 11 from Valley Road.
- Open for essential travel only between Hope and Princeton. Checkpoint in place and no stopping is permitted in Merritt or Princeton for vehicles over 14,500 kg.
- Closed between Hope and Merritt due to washouts.
- Closed between Highway 8 and Petit Creek Road (west of Merritt to Spences Bridge) due to washout.
- Open for essential travel only between Lil'wat Place and Seton Lake Road (north of Pemberton to Lillooet). Checkpoint in place.
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