Highway 7 is slowly opening again to weary travellers who have been stuck in Hope for several days due to flooding and landslides.
The District of Hope announced Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 17), that traffic on Highway 7/Lougheed Highway will be open westbound to single-lane, piloted traffic. The route will be restricted only to those stuck in Hope.
No commercial vehicles are allowed except one-tonne trucks.
CN Rail will have a passenger train in Hope arriving at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening and departing again at 7 p.m. directly to VIA Rail Station in downtown Vancouver.
Travel time is estimated to be about four hours. Parking will be available in the 6th Avenue Park at 1005 6th Ave. The parkade will not be secure, and there is no timeline for anyone who needs to head east. Crated pets are only accepted in the baggage car.
The good news comes as more than 1,200 people have been stuck in Hope after mudslides and flooding cut access off in both directions of Highway 1. All major highways connecting Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland to the rest of Canada remain closed. It’s unclear when those routes will be open to travel.
Roughly 1,000 cots were brought in by the province and setup in local high school or a Baptist church in Hope for those who were seeking shelter. Many slept in their vehicles, or leaning on the hospitality of locals. The Shxw’ōwhámel First Nation also opened their doors, as well as Camp Hope.
Following Wednesday’s evacuation of passenger vehicles westbound from Hope, Highway 7 will be closed again between Agassiz and Hope so crews can continue to work on repairing the roadways.
Travellers are advised to expect delays, and sections of the route may be single lane alternating traffic.
On Wednesday, the province declared the third state of emergency in less than two years due to the flood. This is the second ongoing state of emergency, second to the global pandemic.
The Canadian Armed Forces have also been deployed by the federal government, soon to arrive in B.C. to help with recovery efforts in the most damaged cities, such as Merritt, Princeton, and the Fraser Valley.