Crews work on Coldwater Road, south of Merritt and parallel to the closed Coquihalla, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

Crews work on Coldwater Road, south of Merritt and parallel to the closed Coquihalla, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

B.C. officials urge drivers to avoid travel, conserve gas even as 3rd storm passes

Although the sun is shining and the rain has stopped falling across much of flood-ravaged B.C., officials are still asking motorists to stay home if they don’t need to travel.

B.C.’s third atmospheric river within a week did not wreak as much destruction as was feared, although it did place additional homes on evacuation order and alert.

A small landslide briefly stopped Canadian Pacific freight trains – and the West Coast Express – in Maple Ridge on Wednesday (Nov. 30) but a representative said it was cleared up shortly afterwards.

A larger mudslide closed Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet on Wednesday night as well and that route remains closed.

Highway 1, which helps connect Vancouver to the Fraser Valley and beyond, is expected to reopen this afternoon, Transportion Minister Rob Fleming said during Thursday’s update.

Highway 3 between Princeton and Hope is open to essential traffic, but Fleming urged caution on the “steep and winding” route.

“It is safe, but anyone using it must drive to conditions,” he said.

East of Princeton, Highway 3 remains shut but could open to single-lane alternating traffic as early as this afternoon.

The Malahat, which connects Victoria to the rest of Vancouver Island, is open but will turn to single-lane alternating traffic overnight starting at 10 p.m. Thursday in order to allow crews to complete more fulsome repairs.

VIDEO: B.C.’s year of extreme weather ‘consistent’ with climate change, meteorologist says

But despite the weather, and the improved forecast for the next week, it’s not back to normal for B.C. Officials said there are 4,308 properties still under an evacuation order and 7,400 on evacuation alert. The Coquihalla is still not expected to be open to commercial traffic until January.

“We’re not back to driving like normal,” Fleming warned, adding that motorists must continue to abide by the 30 litre gas restriction.

“If your travel’s not necessary, don’t be out there just yet.”

The transportation minister said there are conversation happening about major rebuilds for B.C. highways that will render them in better shape to handle future storms, but said pricing estimates are far off.

“I don’t have a cost just yet but it’s going to be a lot.”

READ MORE: Fraser Valley farms begin cleanup as B.C. flood water recedes


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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