Mudslides cut travel on Highway 1 east of Vancouver, creating gridlock
November 23, 2017 - 5:50 PM
VANCOUVER - A series of mudslides that rolled over Highway 1 in British Columbia's eastern Fraser Valley won't be completely cleared away until Saturday, the Transportation Ministry said.
The muck and debris is creating delays for both drivers and rail traffic.
Fraser Valley Regional District spokeswoman Jennifer Kinneman said the slides came down early Thursday in several locations on the Trans-Canada about 120 kilometres east of Vancouver.
"It's a fairly long stretch of the highway and I understand there were five separate points where there was a mudslide on that road," she said.
Kinneman said the nearby Popkum Fire Department responded to the first calls for help because some drivers and passengers in vehicles were stranded by debris or power lines that had come down.
An RCMP news release said there were no injuries reported.
The Transportation Ministry said in a statement late Thursday that geotechnical engineers have completed their review of the area and crews with heavy equipment were beginning to clear away large amounts of debris covering the highway in both directions.
"Crews will be focused on clearing the westbound lanes first to re-open the highway and establish a counterflow traffic movement on the west side of the highway," the statement says.
While the ministry estimates the westbound lanes will be clear by around noon on Friday, the statement says the eastbound portion of the highway may not be open until Saturday afternoon.
The slide has also impacted Canadian National Railway traffic that runs beside the highway and while some trains are still moving, there have been delays.
A CN spokeswoman said rail crews were on the scene clearing debris from the tracks and are expecting to work through the night.
A detour is available via Highways 7 and 9 through Agassiz and the lines were long on the route on Thursday afternoon.
Environment Canada lifted a rainfall warning on Thursday for eastern sections of the Fraser Valley that had been deluged with rain over the past several days.
A mudslide also closed Highway 40 west of Lillooet on Thursday, but it was reopened by late afternoon.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017