Highway 3 reopens to all traffic amid forecast for winter storms

·3 min read
Transport trucks travel on the Coquihalla Highway northeast of Hope, B.C., on Monday after it reopened to commercial traffic. It had been closed to all vehicles following extensive flood damage in mid-November. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Transport trucks travel on the Coquihalla Highway northeast of Hope, B.C., on Monday after it reopened to commercial traffic. It had been closed to all vehicles following extensive flood damage in mid-November. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

With most commercial vehicles now moving to the Coquihalla Highway, also known as Highway 5, the province has also lifted travel restrictions on Highway 3, allowing the route between Hope and Princeton to be used for non-essential travel starting Tuesday.

B.C. Transport Minister Rob Fleming said temporary repair work has gone faster than planned, leading the province to open Highway 5 for essential travel about a month earlier than predicted and Highway 3 for all travellers.

Vern Schram, the general manager of Manning Park Resort, says he's excited to welcome guests at the resort again as it has been closed ever since the atmospheric river damaged several B.C. highways, including Highway 3, in mid-November.

"Based on our location, we had no businesses because we could not have guests travel to us," Schram said on the CBC's The Early Edition. "We've basically been closed since Nov. 14."

He said he was worried about having to lay off his staff if roads did not reopen in time for the holidays.

"We have 200 staff that were potentially going to be laid off because we had no indication that the highway would be opening so soon," he said.

Manning Park Resort
Manning Park Resort

"It was very rewarding to be able to talk to the staff and say that they would have positions very quickly."

He said the resort has seen a spike in calls ever since the announcement was made to lift essential travel restrictions on Highway 3 on Monday.

"We've got hundreds of emails and phone calls every day for people that had cancelled reservations wanting to rebook if there's opportunities," Schram said.

Road conditions

Fleming said restrictions have also been lifted on Highway 99 from Pemberton to Lillooet, but large commercial vehicles are still not permitted on that section of the route.

He also cautioned travellers using Highway 3 and Highway 99 to drive according to winter conditions on the mountainous routes where weather can change quickly.

On Tuesday, Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for the Coquihalla from Hope to Meritt and Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton.

Snowfall amounts of 25 and 40 cm for the Coquihalla, and from 10 to 20 cm for Highway 3 are expected to fall starting Tuesday evening continuing until Thursday.

"If you are driving through in the mountain passes, either Sea to Sky or Allison Pass, we're looking at quite a bit of snow ... and a risk of freezing rain," said Environment Canada metrologist Trevor Smith.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Jeanette Elmore says her family is planning to drive Highway 99 from Pemberton to spend Christmas with her sister in Kelowna.

"We regularly travel with not only the spare tire, but blankets, water, shovels and tire chains as well as extra clothes and food," Elmore said on the CBC's The Early Edition.

"We are prepared, but we are still open to cancelling or changing plans last minute, depending on the weather condition."

She said the drive from Pemberton to Kelowna takes them a little more than five hours, but she's expecting the trip to be longer this year.

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