While the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is making significant progress on the roads and highways affected by the flooding in the Peace region last month, there are still a number of significant washouts to deal with.
“Highway crews, maintenance contractors and volunteers in the region continue to work tirelessly on the damage caused by the floods last month,” says Minister Todd Stone said. “The work to address the damage is a huge undertaking but getting the repairs done quickly remains a priority for everyone involved.”
Nearly 200 pieces of equipment are still engaged in safely restoring the numbered highways and side roads that were washed out by the flooding caused by heavy rainfall on June 15 and 16, most notably Highway 97 South through the Pine Pass. There are still two locations where the road is reduced to single-lane alternating traffic: Commotion Creek and Tippy Corner, but, according to Stone, crews are working hard to get both these locations open to two lanes and Highway 97 is now open to over-dimension loads, which means that turbine blades and other pieces are able to make their way to the Miekle Wind Project.
On Highway 29 South between Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd, crews continue to work and monitor one major site at Zonnebeke Creek. The road is reduced to a single lane at this location.
While the standard operating procedure is to replace damaged infrastructure with similar infrastructure (in this case, a culvert), the ministry is evaluating the places that have washed out to see if it would be better to replace the culvert with a bridge. While this will add to the cost of the repair, it will mean the area will be far less likely to wash out in the future.
A similar replacement happened after the culvert at Brassey Creek washed out in 2012 and was replaced with a bridge. That project cost $5.2-million
Elsewhere in the Peace, the ministry expects to reopen Snake Pit Road in Dawson Creek by mid-August. Until the road reopens, the detour for passenger vehicles is still Highway 49 directly into Dawson Creek. Detours for trucks carrying extraordinary loads can take Highway 2 from the Alberta-B.C. border to Dawson Creek, then onto the Dangerous Goods Route and then take either Highway 97S or Highway 97N to Fort St. John and points north.
Of the 40 side roads that were fully closed, says Stone, 29 have now been opened to a minimum of single-lane alternating traffic. The remaining roads with full closures all have alternate routes available. The total number of repair sites is 286, all primarily in the South Peace area. Motorists are expected to drive with caution and obey all advisory signage.
While a number of affected routes have reopened, there is still much work to be done and ministry crews are working hard to repair and reinforce to prevent similar events of this nature in the future. The ministry appreciates the public’s patience, as there will be crews and equipment working in the area for some time.
Know before you go and check DriveBC for updates prior to your travels to ensure you take a safe route.