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Single lane traffic around Alaska Highway washout

Traffic is being led through problem area by pilot vehicle
hwy 97 single lane
Drive BC is reporting that a section of highway closed Friday between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake has been re-opened to single lane traffic with a pilot vehicle.

A large-scale washout along a stretch of the Alaska Highway north of Coal River remains the focus of attention for engineers and contractors.

There was, however, some good news to come from the site Monday afternoon.

It appears a former section of Highway 97 will be used, with pilot vehicles, to re-route traffic around the problem area.

According to the Drive BC website, traffic is down to a single lane alternating option with a pilot vehicle being used as a guide.

On Canada Day, the traffic monitoring service had reported water pooling along a stretch of the Alaska Highway between the Fireside Maintenance Camp and Allend Lookout.

Just hours later, however, and with long weekend traffic travelling in both directions, the road gave way, destroying a large section of paved highway.

Traffic on the both sides of the large crevass were kept back due to the instability of the nearby hillside and the potential for more erosion.

Watson Lake mayor Chris Irvin called the section of missing road massive.

“I drove out there myself. It's like a hundred feet down,” he said. “Talking to a few of the local contractors, it's fortunate that there's an old Alaska Highway just north of it and they're going to route a single lane across the old Alaska Highway,” he added.

“There's a two-metre ditch where they're putting some culvert in and re-grading the old Alaska Highway.”

Early Monday afternoon, after shoring up the small section, officials made the decision to use the roadway, but with a pilot vehicle guiding traffic through the area.

While his community had been cut off from driving into B.C. via Highway 1 for close to three days, Irvin said his community wasn't greatly impacted in the way of receiving fuel or food.

“It's roughly a four to six hour diversion using the Cassiar Highway (Highway 37) as an alternate.”

Barricades set up at the south end of Watson Lake to prevent traffic from heading south were also taken down Monday afternoon by Yukon's highway and public works department.

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