A major highway through Abbotsford, B.C., that has been severely impacted by the flooding will reopen Thursday afternoon, the province’s transportation minister announced.
Rob Fleming gave the update during an afternoon briefing on the latest flood conditions and recovery efforts across the province. The minister said the highway in the Sumas area will reopen at 2 p.m., which is hours earlier than originally estimated by the transportation ministry.
“We’ve had geotechnical engineers confirm that the road is safe for travel,” Fleming said. “This will provide a lot of welcome congestion relief and mobility for the region.”
Fleming said even though this is good news, it won’t be “travel as normal.”
“Rather it will be slow-going with reduced speed limits,” he said, adding that it will not be subject to a travel order.
“But we are asking people to consider whether their travel is absolutely necessary.”
Wind and rainfall warnings blanket most of B.C.’s southern coast and come after about a dozen so-called atmospheric rivers have saturated land in the province since September.
Fleming said teams are watching the forecast closely.
“We hope and expect that Highway 1 will be able to remain open, but we will be constantly monitoring its performance and if necessary we may have to close the highway again because safety is always our first priority,” he said.
Some major highway routes in and out of B.C.’s Lower Mainland remain closed while others have opened to essential travel only. But reopening Highway 1 may help to reduce congestion on other routes, like Highway 7, Fleming said.
Even so, travel restrictions will remain in place on Highway 7 for now.
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