FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) says it is looking at options for permanent and temporary repairs to the Sikanni Chief River bridge.
According to spokesperson Michèle LaRose, until permanent repairs are completed, the highway between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson will not be fully reopened.
The bridge was significantly damaged on August 25th after a fuel tanker crashed into the bridge, causing an explosion. The driver of the truck was killed in the collision.
RCMP officers from Fort St. John and fire departments from Fort St. John and Fort Nelson attended and reportedly found the tanker completely engulfed and emitting a large plume of toxic smoke.
PSPC is looking at options, such as temporary structures, to ensure the bridge can be used in the short-term while a long-term option for repairs can be finalized.
On August 27th, a consultant engineer completed an initial assessment, and it was determined that three out of five of the bridge’s spans had suffered structural fire damage.
LaRose says further testing will be carried out over the course of this week.
Currently, trucks with up to 15,500 kilograms gross vehicle weight, travel trailers and recreational vehicles are allowed to cross the bridge.
Vehicles over that weight limit will need to detour via Highway 37 or Highway 77, which LaRose says can be a 12 to 20-hour detour.
Following an almost 24-hour closure, the bridge was reopened on Friday to single-lane alternating traffic for light-duty pickups and passenger cars. On Saturday, it was reopened to trailers and RVs.
Fort Nelson is facing some grocery stock delays due to the incident.
CBC reported on Tuesday that Save-On-Foods and several fast food establishments have faced issues receiving shipments.
Police continue to investigate the explosion.