As B.C. road crews work around the clock to reconstruct parts of Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon, and sections of the Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt, the damage to Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge gives a sense of how vast the flood repair task is.
Transportation ministry aerial surveys starting on Nov. 17 provide a snapshot of the damage, as engineers set priorities for all available construction crews and equipment. They show the most extensive highway damage may have been wrought to Highway 8, large portions of which are washed away by the Nicola River.
As of Thursday, Nov. 25, Construction crews have begun work on Jackass Mountain, one of the steepest parts of the canyon, installing a temporary bridge. With rail service restored through the canyon and work continuing on washouts and slides, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says the priority continues to be on Highway 1 and the Coquihalla.
An evacuation order was issued Nov. 16 for 37 properties along Highway 8 east of Spences Bridge, and one person was not accounted for by Lillooet RCMP as of Nov. 24.
Steven Rice, regional district director for the Spences Bridge-Highway 8 area, said in a Facebook message that the highway may need to be rerouted due to the extent of damage and widening of the Nicola River.
“Most left with only the clothes on their backs … not a clue where they were going next,” Rice wrote.
Friends have rallied to support another couple whose retirement home on Highway 8 was swept away. They bought the property two years ago after living in Chilliwack for 30 years.