British Columbia

Snowy conditions on Highway 3 bring crashes, closures for commercial vehicle route to B.C.'s Interior

Highway 3 was closed for hours on Sunday between Hope and Princeton as heavy snow hit the only commercial vehicle route to B.C.'s Interior.

Highway 3 reopened between Hope and Princeton at 6 p.m. PT after being closed for hours

A still from a video shows a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 3 east of Hope, B.C., on Saturday. (Submitted by Gurjit Padda)

Highway 3, the only commercial vehicle route between Metro Vancouver and B.C.'s Interior, was closed for hours on Sunday afternoon between Hope and Princeton after snow caused crashes and chaos on the essential highway this weekend.

Gurjit Padda was travelling in heavy snow on the highway Saturday when he witnessed a multi-vehicle crash that he says underscores the need to maintain essential travel only on the route during treacherous weather conditions.

Padda, who works in the building industry in several cities across B.C., was returning to his Abbotsford home Saturday when two large trucks crashed into each other just east of Manning Park on Highway 3. Then, he says a third vehicle veered into the ditch because it couldn't stop in time.

No one was injured in the incident, according to Padda, but it is just the latest multi-vehicle incident on the highway that has become the only commercial vehicle supply route from the coast to the Interior after floods and slides destroyed many highways last month. 

'Stay home'

He said it is a reminder for drivers to be more careful on the roads, and to avoid all non-essential travel as ordered by the province.

"If you don't need to go somewhere ...  just don't go. Just stay home," he said. 

A spokesperson for the RCMP's B.C. Highway Patrol did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.

On Sunday afternoon, more trucks spun out on the route, causing a highway closure.

The highway opened in part around 4 p.m. PT before opening in both directions around 6 p.m. 

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Tuesday that truckers should be careful on Highway 3 during winter, and there is no timeline for when it might reopen for non-essential travel.

Environment Canada issued snowfall warnings for mountain passes on Sunday, as many residents remain without power.

The agency says up to 10 centimetres of snow is expected Sunday in the Fraser Canyon and visibility may be reduced, including on Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton via Allison Pass.

Travellers are urged to keep others informed of their schedule and destination and to carry an emergency kit and phone, as weather in the mountains can change suddenly.

On Sunday, a contracting company said rain and snow would impact roads in Metro Vancouver until Monday morning.

Mainroad Lower Mainland Contracting, which is responsible for maintaining highways in the Lower Mainland, said crews were out pre-treating roads on Sunday in anticipation of more snow overnight.

B.C. Hydro says on its website that nearly 2,000 customers on northern Vancouver Island have no power and about 200 are without electricity in northern B.C. as of 3:30 p.m. PT.

With files from David P. Ball and The Canadian Press

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