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Even temporary repairs to the Coquihalla will take months

The initial damage assessments for the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5) have been completed and the news is not good.

As many feared, the major artery between the BC Interior and the Lower Mainland will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Paula Cousins, the Interior representative for the Ministry of Transportation, confirmed this afternoon that “temporary repairs are going to take months.”

Crews are already preparing site plans to begin temporary repairs.

<who>Photo Credit: Government of BC

In the meantime, engineering procurement and construction experts are working to determine the best and fastest ways to restore the corridor to its pre-event conditions, Cousins explained.

Hwy 5 was arguably the area hit hardest by flooding.

Officials confirmed on Tuesday that an initial aerial assessment confirmed that five structures have been compromised and there were multiple washouts.

Aerial footage of the highway from the last two days has shown a shocking amount of damage, including completely collapsed bridges and large chunks of the four-lane highway missing.

Unfortunately, Hwy 5 isn't the only stretch of highway that will be closed for weeks or months.

Hwy 1 south of Spence's Bridge "has also experienced significant damage," explained Cousins.

Ministry construction experts have been working closely with the railways to assess the site and start reconstruction planning, but it will be a long process to reopen that stretch of highway.

"We will know more about the timing of restoring temporary access in the coming weeks," Cousins said.

<who>Photo Credit: Government of BC</who>Significant damage to Hwy 1 (L) and Hwy 8 surrounding Spence's Bridge.

However, she said it's the nearby stretch of Hwy 8 between Merritt and Spence's Bridge that has experience the most extensive damage.

Survey flights will be conduct in that area as soon as conditions allow to better understand the extent of the damage.

That will inform the provincial government's planning and reconstruction options.

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