The province is turning to recovery efforts as a series of storms has calmed in B.C., but officials said there is still a long way to go in rebuilding essential road networks destroyed by landslides.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said that Highway 7 in the Fraser Valley is expected to reopen to the general public on Monday (Dec. 6) afternoon but that other routes, like Highway 3 and Highway 99, are expected to stay as essential traffic routes only.
“Right now, we really need Highway 3. it’s our lone corridor that links the Lower Mainland to the interior of the province,” Fleming said, adding that 10,000 commercial trucks have moved much-needed supplies along the Highway 3 corridor and on a temporary route in northern Washington State. He said there was no estimated time for when Highway 3 would reopen to the general public.
The province remains under a state of emergency and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the gas rationing for the southwest would remain.
Although the Trans Mountain pipeline came online on Sunday, Farnworth said that it must be pressurized slowly and that it will take time to get to full capacity.
Gasoline is continuing to come into the province by rail from Alberta and by barge from the U.S. The current state of emergency and gas rationing measures are both set to expire on Dec. 14, but can be renewed by the province.
Fleming said there was no way to tell right now whether or not Highway 3 would be open in time for travellers to head to the interior this summer.
“Right now it would not be very pleasant to get in your car and drive to a ski resort in the interior,” he said, adding that although the road is working for commercial traffic, it would be busy and full of trucks.
“It takes twice as long to get from Surrey to Keremeos right now.”
Fleming said that repair to Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon are due to be completed in mid-January. Some of the worst damaged routes in the province, such as the Coquihalla and Highway 8 between Spence Bridge and Merritt remain inaccessible. The Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt is expected to reopen to essential traffic by the end of January, while there is not estimated time of opening for Highway 8, but forest access roads are being considered as an option to bypass the destroyed highway.