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B.C. town still cut off by highway washouts


Progress is being made on a temporary bridge in the Stewart area (Photo courtesy BC Transportation)
Progress is being made on a temporary bridge in the Stewart area (Photo courtesy BC Transportation)

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

September 14, 2011 — It will likely be Friday before crews are able to reopen the flood-damaged highway into Stewart.

Barges have brought supplies into Stewart (Photo courtesy BC Transportation)
Barges have brought supplies into Stewart (Photo courtesy BC Transportation)

It's been a week since the extreme northwestern community -- the last stop before Alaska -- was virtually cut off from the outside world.

The region saw 180 mm of rain in 48 hours. Highway 37A -- the only route into and out of Stewart -- was washed out in at least 20 different spots, including the Bitter Creek bridge.

Mike Lorimer, regional director for the the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said one lane of the highway is now open to construction crews. A temporary bridge will likely be in place by Friday afternoon.

“We're really optimistic that we're going to have a single lane, and people will be able to get in and out of Stewart.”

In the meantime, barges have been delivering fuel and food to the town. Some tourists who were stranded in Stewart by the flooding have also been able to leave by water.

“We've barged out some RVs and people in rental cars -- people who came in on their vacation to have a look at the grizzly bears and ended up spending a week in lovely Stewart,” Lorimer said.

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