The BC government is aiming to have the flood-hit section of Highway 1 through Fraser Valley reopened “at some point” on Thursday, according to Transport Secretary Rob Fleming.
The minister said crews have been working hard to clear debris from the busy highway, which was hit by both floods and landslides when an atmospheric river delivered a month’s rain to the lower mainland in less than 48 hours.
“We are pleased to report that some critical temporary repairs have now been completed and the water level continues to fall,” Fleming said Wednesday.
“We know that people in this region need to travel around – this will provide significant relief.”
The reopening will affect the stretch of Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, but other sections will remain closed or restricted to significant journeys.
Fleming also addressed the county’s decision to restrict Highway 7 to significant travel between Mission and Hope Tuesday night and acknowledged the impact it has had on people living in the area.
This restriction was necessary because trucks moving important goods were “hopelessly congested” on the highway, the minister said.
“This was not a decision that was taken lightly, but we had to remove the blockage of that corridor so goods could start moving,” he said.
The Highway 7 restriction will remain in place until the government can assess the impact of the reopening of Highway 1 and of the next storms heading towards the lower mainland this week, Fleming added.
Essential travel refers to everything from responding to emergencies, to moving important personal, livestock or agricultural products, to exercising an aboriginal treaty right.
This is a development story and will be updated. Past history follows.
The race is underway to protect Abbotsford, BC, from even more floods, and officials say there is still no estimate of when a major highway will reopen.
Abbotsford’s mayor says repairs to the Sumas River dike are nearing completion, but a new rainfall warning has been issued for Fraser Valley with two more atmospheric rivers in the forecast.
Mayor Henry Braun on Tuesday assured residents that the city’s crews, police, fire department and military will be out in full force to closely monitor the situation.
“City of Abbotsford staff with consultants are in the process of performing comprehensive water level modeling with information from Environment Canada. That means we use projections to predict water levels and how they will cross the status of our dike, ”Mayor Henry Braun said in his daily flood briefing on Tuesday.
With the help of the military, the city has been working around the clock for 10 days to rebuild the dikes.
80 percent of the repairs were completed Tuesday afternoon.
There were four main areas of concern, but they accounted for less than one percent of the entire dike system.
The mayor says an additional five feet of height will be added before the rain really picks up.
“All repair and reinforcement work for the dikes so far has been done to ensure we have the best possible protection should the Nooksack River overflow again and water come in from the state of Washington,” Braun said.
The evacuation order for the Zurich Drive area has now been lifted, but a water boiling notice for the Sumas Prairie area was replaced by a “do not use water” message.
The city says the notice was “put in place due to continued uncontrollable water mains breaches that could allow surface water to enter the drinking water system.” It is expected to be in place for several days, the city said, and people in the area should only use water to flush toilets.
There is also still no estimated reopening date for Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack despite water receding in some areas.
“We do not know what more precipitation will do to affect Highway 1 further. In general, however, the water has retreated in eastbound lanes, so they are now exposed,” said Transport Minister Rob Fleming.
He said that if the weather does not worsen the situation, officials should have a better sense of a timeline already late in the day on Wednesday.