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Rockslide cleared, Highway 97 in South Okanagan reopened to traffic

Rockslide cleared, Highway 97 in South Okanagan reopened to traffic

UPDATE: Highway 97 just south of Okanagan Falls has been reopened to traffic after a rockslide closed it in both directions earlier Tuesday.

The highway had been closed for approximately 11 hours, and was reopened at noon following debris removal.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, approximately 15 cubic metres of material came down, with two cubic metres impacting the highway. No vehicles were involved in the slide.

The ministry said geotechnical and aerial assessments of the area were completed this morning, and the highway was deemed safe to re-open to traffic.

Crews will continue to monitor the area closely over the next few days.

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A witness to the slide says the rocks varied in size, though the largest ones were four to six feet in width.

“For us, it was quite surprising,” said Carrie-Lyn MacDougall, who, along with her husband, Lou, is visiting the Okanagan from Erskine, Alta.

“We’re originally from Alberta and we’re staying out here for a little bit. Flatlanders don’t see rockslides.”

MacDougall said they were travelling south at approximately 12:30 a.m., when they stopped their Dodge dually truck for the incident, as did two other vehicles.

She noted there was only one lane open, so vehicles took turns getting through the area.

“We thought we had better call 911 to let them know there was a rockslide,” said MacDougall, “because if somebody came and hit it, it could been fatal . . . some of those rocks were huge.”

MacDougall said everything had settled when they arrived on scene, but noted it must have just happened, as the scent of fresh earth was still in the air.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A rockslide has closed Highway 97 in both directions in the South Okanagan.

DriveBC says the slide is five kilometres south of Okanagan Falls, between Sundial Road and Vaseaux Lake Crescent.

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An estimated time of reopening is not available, but a detour is available via Highway 3 to Keremeos and Highway 3A Keremeos to Kaleden.

READ MORE: Landslides ‘happening all the time’ in B.C., says SFU geology professor

Global News is on site and has been told that a geotech is assessing the site, and that a helicopter will be dispatched to view the slide area from the air.

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READ MORE: 7 dead, including baby and young girl, after landslide crushes homes in Brazil