On November 14, 2021, Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) was closed to regular vehicle traffic due to damage caused by an atmospheric river. Between Hope and Merritt, the November 2021 rain damaged more than 20 sites along the Coquihalla Highway. It took more than 300 workers, 200 pieces of equipment, and more than 400,000 cubic metres of gravel, rock and other material to repair and reopen Highway 5 to commercial vehicles on December 20, 2021 and eventually all vehicles on January 19 this year.
Since then, traffic has been passing through the stretch of temporary reconstructed highway between Hope and Merritt but the Province aims to building back and building stronger.
Now, BC has awarded KEA5 the contract for development and early construction work which begins the process of permanently restoring the flood-damaged sections of Highway 5 and Highway 1.
“This marks a significant milestone in our recovery from the devastating atmospheric river events of last fall,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Following the extraordinary work that was done to reconnect these highways in December, we’re building back permanent infrastructure that will be equipped to better withstand the impacts of climate change and future extreme weather events. I want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to all those who have worked together to help us recover from the unprecedented floods, including the local First Nation communities that continue to work closely with us as we move into this next phase of recovery.”
KEA5 is a joint venture between Peter Kiewit & Sons and Emil Anderson Construction. Work will begin this summer and is expected to be substantially complete this winter.
There are three sites which will be worked on to bring back the damaged stretch’s full four-lane capacity:
Bottletop Bridges, 50 kilometres south of Merritt
Juliet Bridges, three kilometres south of Bottletop
Jessica Bridges, 48 kilometres south of Juliet
The project will be completed through a collaborative construction model and all efforts will be made to minimize traffic disruptions during peak travel hours. The owner and contractor will work together to complete the design and construction of the project, including sharing risks and incentives. Crews will also work overnight when possible.
Good progress is also being made on restoring access throughout the Highway 8 corridor. 25 sections of this highway was damaged by the atmospheric river, leading to the closure of the route between Merritt and Spences Bridge.
18 locations have been temporarily been repaired and construction has started on another two. There are five remaining sites where work is being planned to complete temporary repairs along this route.
In addition to these efforts, the Province is currently under the process for selecting contractors to design and construct the permanent repairs needed at different locations along Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, which consists of:
Falls Creek Bridge, 55 kilometres south of Spences Bridge
Tank Hill Crossing, 23 kilometres south of Spences Bridge
Nicomen River Bridge, 19 kilometres south of Spences Bridge
The Province will award the contract to their selected company shortly after closing their request for proposals on September 14, 2022.
Traffic delays are expected throughout construction on all highway reinstatement projects, including periods of single-lane alternating traffic and short, intermittent full closures. Advanced notice of any traffic disruptions will be provided. Updates will be available online at DriveBC.ca and on Twitter at @DriveBC.
For more information on the highway flood recovery projects: gov.bc.ca/highwayfloodrecovery.com