Malahat Highway to reopen 24 hours a day: ministry

Malahat Highway to reopen 24 hours a day: ministry

With repairs going faster than initially anticipated, there will be no more overnight closures on the Malahat Highway, the Ministry of Transportation said Thursday.

The ministry said the highway will remain open to single-lane alternating traffic 24 hours a day as repairs on the flood-ravaged highway continue.

Travel remains limited to essential trips only, according to Drive BC, and major delays and congestion will still be expected.

The ministry says with favourable weather, repairs should be complete by Monday, Nov. 22, when it is expected two-way traffic will resume.

Record rainfall submerged part of the Trans Canada Highway at the Malahat under more than a metre of water Monday, destroying a retaining wall and compromising the structure of the road.

New photos from the area released Thursday showed the extent of the damage, which will take several more days to repair.

Highway maintenance contractor Emcon Services says crews worked “tirelessly” throughout the night to complete a culvert replacement that was critical to getting the highway back open 24 hours a day.

“We’re doing everything we can that is possible to get transportation links open and get people and goods moving,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming told reporters Wednesday. “No resources will be spared.”

Officials urged drivers to limit trips on the highway to essential only, saying all the non-essential vehicles were making it harder for highway repair crews to get back and forth, as well as delaying much-needed gas and food deliveries.

“I encourage everyone not to travel, unless it is essential,” urged Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. “Our transportation infrastructure is crippled and we need to ensure it comes back online as quickly as possible.”

Drivers are asked to check DriveBC’s website for future updates.

The 24-hour reopening was good news for fuel suppliers in Greater Victoria. Fuel trucks started to come through once the road reopened Thursday morning and while service stations were being resupplied, high demand meant many stations remained empty throughout the day.

“So they usually have normal demand and they receive their supply on a regular basis but then when you have people behaving in this way, and you have this surge of demand, obviously the tanks will run out,” said Adel Guitouni, professor with the UVic Gustavson School of Business.

Saanich Police said they were receiving numerous calls about gas lineups creating congestion and blocking access to roads, sidewalks, and businesses.

“If you don’t need fuel today then get it tomorrow or the day after that,” said Saanich Police spokesperson Markus Anastasiades. “We have so many gas stations in Saanich it’s not possible for our officers to stand by each one and direct traffic, it’s not feasible.”

Meanwhile Trans Mountain said assessments were still underway on its pipeline which was shut down Sunday as a precaution.

“Restarting requires geotechnical evaluations of slope stability and on-the-ground analysis to determine if there is work required before we can safely resume operations. There are some areas where Trans Mountain will need to restore cover over the pipe or make other repairs to ensure integrity of the line where it has been exposed due to flooding,” the company said in a statement Thursday.


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