Spring preparations on the Coq
Photo: BC Transportation
Repairing road embankments near Othello on the Coquihalla Highway.
Permanent repairs to damage from last year’s flooding are expected to begin later this year, but in the meantime work is underway on the Coquihalla Highway to prepare for spring runoff.
In a statement, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure told Castanet “to prepare for the next spring freshet, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure continues to add to the first response works carried out on the highways damaged by the November floods.This includes the placement of extensive riprap (rock) at key locations, as well as riprap on slopes, drainage improvements and increased culvert capacity.
“The spring freshet can pose challenges to our roads. The ministry will monitor warming soils and melting snow that can weaken the base of roads and increase the flow of waterways.
Riprap is used to deflect the impact of rushing water away from nearby infrastructure, while the gaps between the rocks trap and slow the flow of water. Because rockfill is permeable, it allows water to flow freely.
MOTI also notes that damage from wildfires can increase runoff and impact overall soil stability. Two wildfires merged near the Coquihalla Highway last summer, and at one point the road was closed due to flames and smoke dangerously close to the road.
The ministry said it will closely monitor the Coquihalla throughout the spring freshet to ensure road safety.
MOTI is currently in Phase 1 of its response to the severe weather and flooding that washed out and damaged several sections of the highway in November 2021. This work is expected to be completed in the spring, including reinforcements in preparation for the flood.
Phase 2 will include the design and construction of long-term repairs and will begin no earlier than the next construction season.
Highway 5 was closed between Hope and Merritt for several weeks after flood damage. It reopened to commercial vehicles on December 20, 2021 and to regular vehicle traffic on January 19, 2022.