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Coquihalla Highway set to reopen to regular traffic

Temporary repairs to the Coquihalla are in place while the ministry plans permanent repairs to the damaged sections which means travel-pattern changes and reduced speed limits, with the trip between Hope and Merritt taking about 45 minutes longer than normal. — Transportation BC photo

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) will reopen to regular vehicle traffic between Hope and Merritt.

This will be a much more convenient route for people who need to travel between the Lower Mainland and the Interior, and is another significant milestone in the province's recovery from the devastating storms.

Temporary repairs to the Coquihalla are in place while the ministry plans permanent repairs to the damaged sections. This means travel-pattern changes and reduced speed limits, with the trip between Hope and Merritt taking about 45 minutes longer than normal. This is a high-mountain route that can experience adverse weather and rapidly changing conditions that could require closure with minimal notice.

Electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations at Britton Creek are still out of operation. The nearest EV charging stations are in Hope and Merritt. There will continue to be increased enforcement on this route to ensure drivers are obeying the traffic laws and driving according to conditions.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, weight restrictions will be lifted from Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet. However, drivers of large commercial vehicles are discouraged from using this route because of the challenging terrain. It is recommended that only experienced winter drivers travel this route. There is an increased avalanche risk through this corridor, so drivers should be prepared for delays and before travelling should check: DriveBC.ca

In the Fraser Canyon, Highway 1 has partially reopened from Kanaka Bar south of Lytton to Spences Bridge. Drivers can expect delays on this section of Highway 1.

Highway 1 between Kanaka Bar and Hope remains closed. Record snowfalls and recent avalanche risks had delayed work around Jackass Mountain. However, crews are back on site and it is expected the highway will reopen to all vehicle traffic before the end of January.

When Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon reopens, drivers can expect lengthy delays with additional travel times as long as two hours or longer, depending on the destination. Delays are a result of ongoing repairs, an at-grade train crossing, avalanche control and sections of single-lane alternating traffic, which includes a temporary single-lane bridge at the Jackass Mountain and Nicomen River crossing.

The highway will be open to legal width and weight loading, but loads will be limited to 25 metres in length until the rehabilitation of the highway bridge at Nicomen River is completed.

Drivers are reminded that B.C.'s winter-tire and chain-up regulations are in effect. Other safety tips for winter driving include travelling with a full tank of gas, food and water, and warm clothes.

Quick Facts:

  • Highway 5 was closed to regular vehicle traffic since Nov. 14, 2021, due to damage caused by an atmospheric river event.
  • Highway 5 opened to commercial vehicle traffic on Dec. 20, 2021.
  • Flooding and washouts associated with the November rain event damaged more than 20 sites along 130 kilometres of the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt. This included seven bridges where spans completely collapsed or were otherwise heavily damaged.
  • More than 300 workers using 200 pieces of equipment moved more than 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, rock and other material to repair and reopen Highway 5 to commercial vehicle traffic in 35 days.