While hundreds of workers toil away around the clock on B.C.’s highway system, the provincial government is reiterating its request that people stay off critical routes unless absolutely necessary.
Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming said Monday there are 250 pieces of heavy equipment working on emergency repairs to roads and railways in a rush to restore supply chains throughout B.C.
“Every day brings a little bit closer to a return to normal, but we're in the midst of a tremendous challenge,” Fleming said.
He said CP Rail is “cautiously optimistic” they will be able to restart operations on Tuesday, which will lessen pressure on what is left of the highway system. Two-thirds of containers in B.C. are moved by rail.
Segments of Highway 1 in the lower Fraser Canyon and Fraser Valley between Hope and Chilliwack reopened over the weekend. Traffic on the Trans-Canada between Highway 11 and Yale Road is being limited to agricultural and other essential vehicles.
Work is underway on temporary repairs and construction access on the Coquihalla Highway while permanent rebuilds are planned at multiple sites.
“We don't yet have clear timelines there beyond many weeks for the temporary work, and many, many months for the permanent repairs,” Fleming added, adding more information on timelines for the reopen Highway 5 will be released in the “coming days.”
He said restrictions limiting usage of parts of Highway 3, 99, 7 and 1 to essential travel only will remain in place as long as they need to. There were no fines issued over the weekend to violators of the restrictions as B.C. residents overwhelmingly complied.
Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth says crews are working around the clock, with more rain coming Wednesday, “and a series of further storms are expected in the coming weeks.”
“Over the last week, we've asked a great deal of British Columbians and time and again, the people of this province have responded,” Farnworth added. “There's a lot of hard work ahead. But we are making progress thanks to the big hearts of so many people.”
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said farmers in the Fraser Valley are exhausted and are still desperately trying to care for their livestock amid the flooding.
“Our food supply chain remains in good shape as retailers and distributors are working really closely to keep the product moving and supply communities across the province,” Popham said.
She said there is still too much water on the Sumas Prairie to start work on the disposal of agricultural waste and livestock carcasses impacted by the floods. The military is on the ground supporting farmers by doing things like moving chickens to safer barns.