Heavy rain from B.C.’s latest atmospheric river caused flooding on several highways Sunday morning and triggered another landslide on Highway 1.
While there have been no major slides or washouts reported during this weekend’s storm, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said each of the highways that were pre-emptively closed on Saturday have been impacted by the weather.
The landslide on Highway 1 struck about seven kilometres east of the Highway 9 junction. Further east along the route, there was rockfall in the Fraser Canyon and pooling water near Boston Bar.
“Cleanup is underway,” Fleming said at a Sunday morning update. “We have geotechnical engineers that are currently assessing when they can reopen.”
Trees and debris came down onto Highway 3, which was shut down between Hope and Princeton as a precaution. There was also minor rockfall on the closed stretch of Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet.
It’s unclear when the three highways will be able to reopen, but officials said the updates will be posted on DriveBC as they become available.
A number of other routes were impacted by flooding overnight, including a 4.8-kilometre stretch of Highway 7 through Maple Ridge between 105 Avenue and 263 Street.
“Right now, only commercial vehicles are still getting through this part of Highway 7, while local passenger vehicles are being re-routed through local streets,” Fleming said.
Localized flooding may force additional closures in other areas on Sunday, the minister added.
Floodwaters already temporarily blocked a bus lane on Highway 99 in Richmond and forced the closure of the 264th Street onramp on Highway 1, though both issues have been resolved.
Officials also closed Highway 1 between Popkum and Hope on Saturday so that water could be released from the Jones Lake Reservoir. While officials said that rushing water could damage parts of the highway that were impacted during the last major storm, they said the releases are “crucial” to protecting the reservoir.
While the rainfall continues, Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth urged Lower Mainland residents to avoid non-essential travel, noting that pooling water can sometimes be much deeper than looks.
“We’re in the middle of one of the most intense series of storms that we have seen along coastal B.C.,” Farnworth said.
“If you must be on the road, carry food, water, warm clothes, a blanket and a well-stocked emergency kit.”
Repairing the highways damaged during the previous intense storm is expected to take months and cost billions of dollars. That includes the hard-hit Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge, large sections of which were “swallowed by the Nicola River,” Farnworth said.
Emergency Management B.C. has been working to provide food, medication and other supplies to First Nations communities that have been isolated by the closure, the deputy premier added.
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