Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge is now open to all vehicle traffic, restoring connectivity to residents, Indigenous communities and the local forestry and mining industries.
“From the first day of the atmospheric river, people have gone above and beyond to help us to reach this important milestone,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We all owe a huge debt of gratitude for the impressive work that crews and staff have done to reconnect the people and communities along Highway 8.”
November 2021’s heavy rains and flooding washed out more than 25 sections of the highway and rerouted some sections of the Nicola River, leading to the complete closure of the highway between Merritt and Spences Bridge. More than seven kilometres of Highway 8 was completely lost due to the event.
Numerous Thompson Nicola Regional District residences, as well as Nooaitch, Shackan and Cook’s Ferry First Nations communities, were isolated. Reopening Highway 8 reconnects rural communities, allows residents to return home and improves transportation access for various sectors, such as forestry, mining and ranching.
“The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 is proud of the work that has been done by our members in getting Highway 8 reopened,” said Brian Cochrane, business manager, IUOE Local 115. “We’re committed to rebuilding the province’s highways and to supporting the local and First Nations communities on all of our projects.”
In the past year, ministry staff, crews and local Indigenous communities worked together to make considerable progress on Highway 8 with temporary repairs. This included partnering with Indigenous community-partnered contractors to deliver repairs, while maintaining a workforce that is more than 30% Indigenous.
While temporary repairs are complete, the highway remains an active construction zone. Crews continue to install roadside barriers, place riprap (large rocks) to stabilize road embankments and process rock to undertake permanent repairs along the corridor.
Some sections of the highway have reduced speed limits and differing surface materials, including sections of gravel road, making the highway unsuitable for motorcycles. Ongoing construction will lead to delays and intermittent closures.
Since Highway 8 is still a construction zone, it would not be a suitable detour option should the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) or Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) be closed. In either event, access to the highway would be limited to residents.
Drivers are reminded that B.C.’s winter-tire and chain-up regulations are in effect. Other winter driving safety tips include travelling with a full tank of gas, food and water, and warm clothes.
- Highway 8 was closed for 361 days following the atmospheric river event on Nov. 14, 2021.
- In addition to the 25 sites washed out during November 2021’s storms, another five washouts that occurred this past summer were repaired as part of this project.
- As part of the project, a 73-metre two-span temporary bridge was installed at Site 10a, and an 85-metre single-span temporary bridge was installed at Site 10d.
- The Highway 8 environmental team continues to work on enhancements to fish-habitat restoration.
- Monitoring fish presence and vegetation growth related to enhancements made on the corridor will create future opportunities adjacent to highway works.
- Following the storms, more than 5,000 fish were salvaged from isolated channels and returned to the Nicola River.
Updated highway information: www.DriveBC.ca
Information about winter tires and chains regulations:
Winter driving tips: https://www.shiftintowinter.ca