The BC government announced it was “proactively closing” portions of Highway 1, National Road 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday as the province prepares for its next atmospheric river.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said the closures would affect Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton, Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, and Highway 1 in Fraser Canyon.
“Exact times and closures will depend on the weather,” the ministry said in a press release.
“Highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms and heavier rain is forecast to pose additional risks.”
Officials said the closures would be reassessed Sunday morning and routes would reopen when they are deemed safe.
In addition to those closures, Highway 1 between Popkum and Hope will be closed Saturday afternoon for scheduled reservoir discharges that will cause water to rush to portions of the highway that were impacted during the week’s storm. prior to.
The Department of Transportation said further damage on the highway is expected, but that the water release is “critical to protecting the Jones Reservoir, which is also being impacted by the heavy downpours.”
“Crew will conduct an assessment when it is deemed safe and the equipment will be on standby for repair,” the ministry said.
On Friday, multiple collisions closed part of Highway 3, the Crowsnest Freeway, in both directions. The stretch is already open to essential travel, such as commercial vehicles carrying essential goods and previously stranded travelers trying to get home.
Transport Minister Rob Fleming called the crashes a good reminder to all drivers “please slow down, pay attention and be patient.”
“Crews are continuing to repair and upgrade corridors and conditions that are far from normal,” Fleming said Friday morning.
The Coquihalla Expressway and Highway 8 also remain closed.
Referring to ongoing repairs to major roads damaged in last week’s storm, Fleming said there was “no doubt” that they would be rebuilt better than before.
“Our infrastructure will be rebuilt to cope with the new climate reality we are facing,” he said.
On Highway 1 in Fraser Canyon, seven different areas were affected, four of which suffered major damage.
The province has estimated temporary repairs to be completed by mid-January.
“There will be very limited traffic with some single-lane sections of the road and the level crossings will be temporary but will allow for safe passage of vehicles,” Fleming said.
The minister also gave an update on Highway 8, which he said “was largely destroyed” during last week’s storm. Twenty different areas suffered significant damage, including four bridges.
He added: “The Nicola River has literally created a new road, washing away large sections of the highway in the process.
“About five or six kilometers of roads have been completely lost and another 20 kilometers have been significantly damaged.”
The province is working with local Indigenous leaders to restore temporary access as soon as possible, Fleming said.
Ongoing road updates are available on DriveBC’s road advice page.