‘It was all on deck’: Crews work all night to clear roads in British Columbia

Construction crews in British Columbia are still working hard to repair damage caused by recent storms and landslides.

Metric Civil Contractors, which serves all of western Canada with its bases in Chilliwack and Kelowna, is one of the crews working on the ground clearing roads and fighting floods.

Chris Finstra, director and project manager for Metric, said his teams were working at Emil Anderson Maintenance, the company tasked with maintaining many of the Fraser Valley’s regional roads and highways.

Metric’s work began early on Tuesday (November 23) when they were sent toward Lake Cultus to repair the washed up canals. Crews are working on serious washes and keeping them off the Chilliwack Lake Road. They also fixed the shoulders and reorientated the tables.

Metric and others also coordinated work to survey Highway 1. After Emil Anderson and his crew traversed a smaller slide into a much larger slide, the excavators, trucks, and crews were immediately mobilized.

Crews were also about to make a detour on Interstate 3 as equipment was stuck across Maple Ridge and the Langley side.

“It was all on board,” said Finstra. “It’s been basically non-stop ever since.”

Emil Anderson, Kiewit, Metric, Kemano Drilling and many others have coordinated to make the highway safe and open. The Metric team initially worked 12-hour shifts for 24 hours to help clean up the track.

“They are all working side by side and the work has not stopped,” he said, noting that despite the urgency and national interest in the work, safety is the top priority.

“It’s obviously hard work and there is a lot of urgency, but it was important that the work be done safely,” he said. “At the end of the day, the top priority, the second is to open the highway.”

Veenstra explained that unlike planned maintenance, repairing damage caused by a disaster is more complex.

“It is very different from a typical project we work on where everything is completely designed and engineered and where there is a lot of time to plan, even right down to ordering materials, coordinating trucks, coordinating crews, reviewing scope and reviewing schedules,” he said. “In this scenario, it could change hourly. It’s dealing with unknown conditions and you’re trying to move equipment, crews and supplies quickly. It’s a much different situation, but it was amazing to see how our crews handled it and got it done as quickly as possible.”

METRIC CIVIL CONTRACTORS Crews have a meeting to work on clearing part of Highway 1. Emil Anderson Maintenance, Metric Civil Contractors, Kiewit and others have coordinated their efforts to repair damaged infrastructure in the county.

Finstra praised the crews who worked long hours at the complex’s sites.

“The amount of teamwork in these extreme conditions was amazing to watch,” he said. “It is not possible without the men in the field. The equipment looks good in the pictures, but it is the men who operate it.”

He hopes the Attention and Highway crews will emphasize the importance of British Columbia’s infrastructure.

“I think it’s unfortunate that it’s being brought into the spotlight now, but hopefully the general public will understand how important it is to maintain our public infrastructure,” he said. “This work is reactive but going forward there is more importance for preventive maintenance of critical infrastructure. I think seeing what we are dealing with now will change the perspective of the general public and the stakeholders who make those decisions.”

The county expects to reopen Highway 1 between Hope Bridge and Spence Bridge on Thursday, November 25, officials said, as crews completed “critical temporary repairs.” Many roads remain closed or travel restricted due to storm or damage risks. The south coast of North Korea is also preparing for more rain in the coming days. Environment Canada expects up to 80mm of precipitation to fall over the North Shore Mountains as well as the Fraser Valley.

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