B.C. government to rebuild washed out road south of Quesnel

The B.C. government will spend $103.4 million to rebuild a Cariboo road that was washed out by flooding nearly two years ago.

Five sections of West Fraser Road, 17 kilometres south of Quesnel, B.C., was washed out by flooding in April 2018. The damage was so severe that three kilometres of the road were closed. 

Since then, residents have had to take a treacherous alternate route to get to Quesnel. 

The reason it's taken so long to make a plan, according to Ministry of Transportation district manager Todd Hubner, is the scale of the project. 

Nicole Oud/CBC

"I know it's frustrating for all those people that must use that route on a regular basis," he said. "Whenever you're applying [for] 100 plus million dollars, you really need to ensure that you've done your homework right. And these are taxpayers' dollars at the end of the day — we don't wish to be spending them frivolously."

The project will be funded by the provincial government, but they will be applying for disaster financial assistance through the federal government to cover some of the costs. 

"It's going to involve significant construction," Hubner said. "We've got a little over 900,000 cubic metres of soils and rock that need to be blasted and removed and we're putting the final touches on the detailed design."

Hubner said the project will be completed in late 2022. 

Students spending 25 hours a week on bus rides

In the meantime, students have been spending up to 25 hours a week on the bus getting to and from school because of the length of the alternate route.

Gloria Jackson, a Quesnel school board trustee and resident of Buckridge — which was severely impacted by the washout — said that means those students can't take part in extracurricular activities after school. 

"People have changed their lives significantly due to the road," she told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk. 

The school district has been concerned about the safety of the alternate route since the washout happened — the road was never intended to be a bus route. 

Jackson said the community has had trouble getting up-to-date reports on the status of West Fraser Road. 

"There's just been a really big impact," she said. 

While it's nice to have a completion date set for the project, Jackson said the whole process has been challenging for her, her students and her community. 

"I think the magnitude of the project has made it difficult," Jackson said. "It was a much bigger project than any of us had anticipated."