February 8, 2019 5:51 pm
Updated: February 8, 2019 9:49 pm

New detour route around Highway 97 rockslide in Okanagan

The Ministry of Transportation said on Friday that work is continuing on the Callan Road detour around the rockslide that has blocked Highway 97 near Summerland in the Okanagan.

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A third detour route around the rockslide that’s currently blocking Highway 97 near Summerland was announced on Friday by the Ministry of Transportation.

The new detour is on the west side of Okanagan Lake: The Trout Creek Forest Service Road, between Peachland and Summerland. The new detour is estimated to be 90 kilometres in length.

“This route will accommodate light vehicles, five tons or less, providing a better connection for local traffic travelling from Summerland to Peachland or Peachland to Summerland,” said Paula Cousins, deputy director of the Southern Interior region.

READ MORE: Highway 97 closure: Frontage road to be repurposed as rockslide bypass in Okanagan

The full route includes the Princeton-Summerland Road (west of Summerland), the Trout Creek Forest Service Road and the Peachland Forest Service Road to Princeton Avenue in Peachland.

Prior to Friday, the ministry had only two approved detour routes: One involving Highways 97C, 5A, 3 and 3A (approximately 272 kilometres); and the 201 Forest Service Road via Highway 33 (approximately 110 km.).

Cousins said “using this route to travel between Summerland and Peachland will be approximately 45 minutes faster than using the 201 Forest Service Road to drive between these two communities. This route has been graded and sanded, and signage is in place.”

The ministry noted that the speed limit on this detour is 50 km/hour, that vehicles should have good winter tires and that motorists should drive with caution.

WATCH BELOW: Highway 97 rockslide near Summerland, B.C.

Cousins added that despite the new route, the 201 FSR is still the fastest alternate route between Penticton and Kelowna, and that using alternate, unmaintained routes is discouraged.

Regarding the rockslide, the ministry is reporting there is still slope movement and that Highway 97 remains closed with no estimated time for reopening. Hand-drilling and scaling is ongoing, but due to the instability of the slope, heavier drilling equipment cannot be used yet.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Rockslide closes portion of Highway 97 in Okanagan

There are eight scalers on site, along with two ground-support workers, and geotechnical engineers have approved access through the slide zone for emergency vehicles.

“We are doing everything possible to have the highway reopened to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Cousins. “However, safety for drivers and our crews on site remains our top priority.”

Also, work is continuing on the Callan Road detour near the rockslide.

The two-lane detour, which will connect the south end of Callan Road to Highway 97, is projected to be completed early next week, barring unforeseen circumstances, and will accommodate light and commercial vehicles.

WATCH BELOW: Rockblasting along Highway 97 in the Okanagan

In related news, DriveBC is reporting that Highway 33 is down to single-lane, alternating traffic because of a motor vehicle incident. The estimated time of opening was 2 p.m.

Also, a small slide occurred south of Summerland, though it was called a silt-bluff soil failure by the ministry and it did not affect traffic.

The ministry said there is a good ditch and catchment area where the slide occurred and that the silt-bluff failure did not reach the highway.

“This type of event is quite typical for this time of year, and it’s not related to the major rockslide event north of the community,” said Cousins. “Geotechnical engineers have visited the site and that section of highway, south of Summerland, remains open to traffic.”

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