Rockslide clean-up to wrap up Tuesday

Traffic was delayed on Highway 97 between Summerland and Peachland Sunday after a rockslide spilled debris onto several lanes of the highway. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Traffic was delayed on Highway 97 between Summerland and Peachland Sunday after a rockslide spilled debris onto several lanes of the highway.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure officials expect Highway 97 traffic will be back to normal Tuesday morning after Sunday's rockslide forced lane closures two kilometres north of Summerland.

Crews were still on scene Monday, cleaning up the rocks and dirt that came crashing down just after 11 a.m. Sunday.

One vehicle was damaged by the falling debris and a passenger was sent to Kelowna General Hospital with minor injuries.

Murray Tekano, district manager of transportation with the ministry, said Sunday's incident was the first major rockslide to occur on that stretch of highway since it was rebuilt and widened into four lanes in 2008.

"There was a rock issue during construction that resulted in the old highway being closed for a number of days. But since then…there hasn't been a highway closure, related to rockfall, of this nature," said Tekano.

The area where the slide occurred Sunday has rock mesh installed.

"That's intended to capture rock and debris that comes down those slopes," said Tekano.

"We can't eliminate it, so we use this rock mesh to capture it and direct it into the rock catchment areas."

Tekano said the falling rocks stayed behind the mesh Sunday; however, the overwhelming quantity exceeded what the ditch could handle. The debris breached the concrete barrier and spilled onto Highway 97.

The highway was fully closed for about an hour following the incident as engineers assessed the site, causing vehicles to back up for several kilometres.

Traffic personnel were able to direct single lane alternating traffic shortly after noon. An additional lane was opened around 3 p.m.

Tekano said he expected the highway to be cleared and four lanes of traffic would likely be restored Tuesday.

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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