West Fraser Road Flood Recovery

In April 2018, high water levels from the spring freshet caused Narcosli Creek to erode five sections of the West Fraser Road, on the west side of the Fraser River, approximately 17 km south of Quesnel.

The damage was severe and the road had to be closed with damage spread over a three-kilometre section as follows:

  • At the north end of the 3 km section, 250 metres of road embankment washed out
  • Near the north end of the 3 km section, 100 metres of road embankment washed out
  • North of the Narcosli Bridge, a 100 metre section of road is washed out
  • At the Narcosli Bridge, the north side road embankment and rip-rap was washed out and eliminated the road and bridge connection.
  • At the switchback at Deep Creek Hill, the road embankment washed out for a length of 100 metres and another section of road embankment has slid and/or collapsed.

Up to 150 vehicles per day normally use West Fraser Road, which accesses First Nation communities, ranches, logging activities, farming lands and local residences. A detour route is in place via Garner Road and Webster Lake Road, which is a two-lane gravel road that adds 17 km in distance and approximately 20 minutes in travel time for a one-way trip.

The ministry has been working to keep the detour route in safe operating condition. Following 2019 spring breakup, the ministry made road base repairs, applied dust control and has continued to carry out grading.

In 2018, the ministry invested over $1 million to keep the detour route safe. Work included:

  • Applying crushed gravel on a significant portion of the detour route to improve the driving surface
  • Applying a calcium chloride base to the 39 km gravel portion of the detour route to reduce dust
  • Repairing the road base at several soft sections of the route
  • Removing roadside vegetation to increase sight lines
  • Ditching along the entire detour route
  • Installing cross culverts to improve drainage
  • Adding signs (e.g. - cattle guard, speed limit, Share the Road, etc.)
  • Replacing and improving cattleguards

The posted speed limit is 70 km/hour on Garner Road and 60 km/hour on Webster Road. Regular CVSE patrols and inspections are being carried out on commercial vehicles to ensure continued safety.

The ministry recognizes the impact this closure is having on users of West Fraser Road and continues to work towards the earliest possible solution to re-establish regular road service. 

Ten conceptual designs for new route options were developed. The ministry has completed the functional design of the preferred alignment that was presented at the spring 2019 open house (original option 4 in the open house display boards posted on the right-hand sidebar of this website). This alignment has been slightly revised based on a geotechnical investigation.  

The final detailed design is underway and some additional geotechnical investigation will be required in the high rock-cut areas.  A value-engineering study was conducted by a group of independent consultants and the recommendations for improvements are being incorporated into the detailed design.

The detailed design will refine the scope of the project and prepare it for tendering. While design work continues, the ministry will be completing archaeological and environmental impact assessments, as well as a hydrotechnical assessment of the revised preferred alignment. The ministry will apply for all necessary permits once these assessments are completed.

The ministry submitted a business case to the federal government asking for the project to be eligible for Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) funding and has since had positive discussions with our federal counterparts.


Drone Footage of West Fraser Road Washout, May 14, 2018