Few fires in a wild, wet summer

B.C. taxpayers got a break on forest fire costs this summer, but the transportation ministry is still busy with major repairs after an unseasonable number of road washouts.

The Bitter Creek bridge near Stewart in northwest B.C. washed out last week

B.C. taxpayers got a break on forest fire costs this summer, but the transportation ministry is still busy with major repairs after an unseasonable number of road washouts.

The latest closure is Highway 37A, leaving the northwestern B.C. community of Stewart without road access until a bridge 10 km east of the community is replaced.

The Bitter Creek bridge washed out last week after more than 180 mm of rain fell over two days. Several other sections of Highway 37A were also washed out, forcing groceries to be brought in by barge along with heavy equipment for repairs.

Highway 37 north of Stewart to the Yukon border has also been closed to traffic due to mudslides and flooding.

The ministry reports that this year in the Bulkley-Stikine highways district there has been damage to 20 km of road, two bridges and eight large culverts. Another two bridges, two large culverts and two km of road have needed repair in the Fort George district, and two km of road damaged in the Skeena district. Estimated cost of emergency response and repair is $5 million for the three areas.

Heavy rains left a larger mess in the northeast of the province. A 64-km section of Highway 97 between Prince George and Chetwynd remains under construction after a 130 mm downpour in late June caused damage to 77 sites in the Pine Pass.

Subsequent downpours in the Dawson Creek and Fort St. John areas damaged more bridges and roads, with emergency response and repair costs for the Peace region estimated at $38 million.

The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley were spared widespread damage during the wet early summer. Major events include flood damage to five km of Highway 3 in the Skagit Valley, and a late-June landslide that briefly closed the Trans-Canada Highway at Herrling Island north of Chilliwack.

In the Okanagan and Kootenay regions there were 60 weather damage events including slides, washouts, plugged or failed culverts and bridge approach washouts. Response and recovery costs in those regions are estimated at $18.7 million.