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Highway swept away in 2021 floods reopens between Merritt and Spences Bridge

Highway 8 repairs are temporary and work is ongoing
A property affected by November flooding of the Nicola River is seen along Highway 8 on Shackan Indian Band land, northwest of Merritt, B.C., on Thursday, March 24, 2022. The highway that saw some of the most complex destruction during catastrophic flooding in B.C. last year has reopened to the public. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A highway that was washed out in about two dozen places has reopened to the public a year after a series of atmospheric rivers stalled over southern B.C.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said it had taken crews considerable work to restore Highway 8, a scenic corridor that snakes along the Nicola River between Merritt and Spences Bridge.

When the heavy rains pummelled B.C., the Nicola River surged and changed course while whole sections of the highway, and some homes, fell into the waterway.

Residents along the highway, including members of the Nooaitch, Shackan and Cook’s Ferry First Nations communities, were isolated or moved to other communities, many of which were also dealing with the consequences of the flooding.

The B.C. government said the current repairs are temporary and work is ongoing to install roadside barriers, place large rocks to stabilize the road embankments and process rock for permanent repairs.

There were 25 washout sites along the highway and repairs include temporary bridges spanning 73 metres and 85 metres.

“From the first day of the atmospheric river, people have gone above and beyond to help us to reach this important milestone,” Fleming said.

“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.”

Work also continues to restore fish habitat. The government said about 5,000 fish were salvaged from isolated channels and returned to the Nicola River.