Highway 97 north of Summerland will remain closed through the Labour Day long weekend due to a rockslide but the Ministry of Transportation and Infracture says one lane on the road is now set to be cleared for emergency vehicles.
Geotechnical engineers will continue to assess the site of the rockfall, which has blocked the major route for 1.6 kilometres between Summerland and Peachland since Aug. 28.
The MOTI said on Friday, Sept. 1, that engineers have given approval for one lane to be cleared for emergency vehicles and that the sensors put in place are showing continuing movement of the slope above the highway.
“Travel by emergency vehicles through the site will take place under specific site safety protocols,” a statement reads. “No other traffic will be permitted due to the ongoing safety risk.”
More data will be collected during the long weekend and, with a “clearer look” at the condition of the slope expected next week.
There is currently no timeline of when Highway 97 could safely reopen to general traffic, the MOTI said.
The ministry adds in its update that traffic is moving well on the two forest road service detours and that crews will be working this weekend on further grading and dust control on the gravel routes.
“Additional signage has been installed and the routes will be patrolled 24 hours a day,” they said. “Staff at reception tents at the detour entrances will provide maps and answer questions from motorists.”
Drivers are reminded that detour routes are unpaved and will add as much as 90 minutes of travel time.
The gravel road detour routes are listed below have a 60 km/h speed limit:
For travel between Penticton and Kelowna:
• 201 Forest Service Road
• Accessed off Highway 33 near McColloch Road southwest of Kelowna and via Warren/Carmi avenues in Penticton
For travel between Summerland and Peachland:
• Use Trout Main to Peachland Forest Service Road
The ministry is also reminding drivers to make sure they fuel up or charge up their vehicles, bring food, water and extra supplies.
Be aware that driving conditions can change quickly, they added.