Highway crews work to stabilize rock face

Highway 97 north of Summerland has been closed since last weekend following a rock slide

Highway 97 north of Summerland remains closed as crews continue to work to stabilize the rock face.

A week ago, on the evening of Jan. 31, a rock slide affected the highway just north of Summerland. While the road was still open that evening and the following day, conditions have changed and it has been closed since Friday night.

Crews had hoped to have the highway opened by Wednesday afternoon, but on Wednesday morning, a new and significant crack was discovered approximately 50 metres north and south of the current failure.

RELATED: New crack in hillside delays Highway 97 reopening

Mike Lorimer, Executive Director of Highway Operations for the Southern Interior Region, said efforts are being made to stabilize the rock face, but the road remains closed without a projected date of when it could reopen.

“We don’t have a time line for that,” Lorimer said. “The ‘when’ will be when it’s safe.”

However, he added that the delay is likely to last for days rather than for weeks before the road will be reopened.

Crews are working on the upper part of the slide area to stabilize the rock face.

RELATED: Update: Crews have removed more than 500 cubic metres from rock slide site

Lorimer said the crews are dealing with extreme weather conditions during some of the coldest days of the winter.

“It’s some pretty ugly conditions,” he said. “With the winds and the temperatures, it’s pretty challenging.”

Until the road is reopened, two detours are in place.

One of the detours involved Highway 3A, Highway 3, Highway 5A and Highway 97.

Another detour, for vehicles five tonnes or less followed the 201 Forest Service Road. The road can be accessed via Warren Avenue and Carmi Avenue in Penticton and off Highway 33 near McCulloch Road in Kelowna. Signage and traffic control have been installed at both locations.

The speed limit along this road is 50 kilometres an hour.

“The detour routes are not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.” Lorimer said.

While ministry officials are looking at alternate routes, he advises against motorists using unmarked detour routes.

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