B.C. reopens major section of flood-damaged Trans Canada Highway in Fraser Valley

A major section of the flood-damaged Trans-Canada Highway was reopening Thursday afternoon in B.C., which the government says will help connect the Lower Mainland to the province’s Interior.

The provincial government says the section of Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford has been cleared to reopen and that will connect the Lower Mainland to Highway 3 as major road routes continue to be rebuilt from last week’s floods.

The highway will not be subject to an essential travel order, but the government is asking people to stay off Highway 1 through Abbotsford unless travel is necessary, adding that reduced speed limits will be in effect so drivers can expect slow traffic.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming says the Coquihalla Highway will not reopen to commercial traffic until the end of January.

Meanwhile, the federal government and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced they are working together to address supply chain disruptions.

A statement from the federal ministers of transport and emergency preparedness says the government is contributing up to $4.1 million to ease bottlenecks at Vancouver ports.

The congestion was caused by the aftermath of floods that severed all rail and road travel between Metro Vancouver and B.C.’s Interior.

The statement says the plan, led by the port authority, will add container storage capacity by opening up an undeveloped 16-hectare parcel of industrial land in Richmond to hold empty containers.

Wind and rainfall warnings blanket most of the B.C. as the province continues its rebuild from the flood damage.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Thursday’s storm follows about a dozen so-called atmospheric rivers that have saturated land in the province since September.

Routine rainfall may cause already swollen rivers to rise to dangerous heights and he urged residents to prepare for evacuations and watch for updates.

B.C. can expect three rainfall events over the next few days, with a major storm forecast to hit the southern part of the province Tuesday, Farnworth said.

The government has been making headway on its recovery, with supply chains stabilizing, gas shortages starting to ease and some evacuees allowed to return to their homes. Canadian Pacific Railway announced its first trains have arrived in Vancouver from Kamloops carrying grain and fuel.

The number of people confirmed killed or missing in the floods has risen to six.

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The RCMP is investigating a report of a missing woman who was unable to leave a home on Highway 8 before it was washed away last week. Four bodies have been recovered from a mudslide along Highway 99 near Lillooet and one man is still missing.

The centre that monitors the province’s waterways said several storms will drench B.C., dropping up to 70 millimetres of rain over the Fraser Valley, including flood-damaged Abbotsford by Thursday, and even more over Vancouver’s North Shore mountains.

The statement from the River Forecast Centre said another storm will arrive Saturday and “additional storms are expected early next week,” although the amount and severity of rainfall are still being determined.

Rivers in the Fraser Valley could rise by amounts similar to typical fall storms but could be “more problematic due to flood response and recovery efforts and damaged infrastructure in the region,” it said.

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