No more overnight closures planned for Malahat

The ministry said the repair work was progressing faster than expected and should be completed by the end of the day on Monday.

Ministry of Transport is opening the Malahat to one-lane alternate traffic 24 hours a day, eliminating plans for more overnight closures that were expected to last until Monday.

The ministry said the repair work was progressing faster than expected and should be completed by the end of the day on Monday.

However, there will be intermittent short closures to prioritize travel for certain vehicles, said Janelle Staite, a representative of the South Coast region for the Ministry of Transportation.

“For example, we transported busloads of health workers for shift work through the site, we transported convoys of fuel trucks through the site,” she said. “We’re hosting ambulances, fire.”

The tankers met at Bamberton at 9 a.m. Thursday before traveling south with an escort.

Langford engineers issued advice on the convoy, saying there was no need to panic over gas supplies, but drivers continued to line up at some local gas stations Thursday morning.

Staite said damage to the highway included the failure of a retaining wall in the Tunnel Hill area, which undermined the stability of the road base under the northbound lanes.

Crews dug up the affected area, drilled into the rock face and lowered special nails to restore stability.

“Now we can rebuild the road slowly, and finally get that wall back there,” Staite said.

That will allow the lanes to be supported and stabilized “in eternity,” she said.

Staite said drivers are still advised to travel the Malahat only if it is essential.

“We see some significant queues, but mostly people have been patient,” she said. “We’ve dealt with some people who are less patient and less kind to our staff and our contractors on the ground, but overall, I think people are quite understanding.”

Ships will be on site over the weekend, Staite said. “It’s a little slower for us to work when we have the traffic right next to us.”

The rain that caused the damage was “unprecedented,” she said, but general maintenance and ensuring water pipes are clear of debris is expected to prevent typical heavy rains from causing damage.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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