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Highway 97 in Summerland slide will need retaining wall built

Alternating traffic will remain as work continues on the unstable slope
The clay and silt slope came down covering Highway 97 in Summerland on Monday, May 15. The highway at the site remains limited to single-lane alternating traffic. (Monique Tamminga - Black Press)

Highway 97 at Lakeshore Drive South in Summerland is staying limited to single-lane alternating traffic until further notice due to recent landslides.

The latest and largest slide on Monday, May 15 covered all four lanes of the highway. The slide occurred at 7 p.m. when a silt/clay bluff beside the highway released. No vehicles were affected.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says there is a significant amount of unstable material remaining on the slope above the highway which would be enough to reach the travel lanes if it were to release.

The May 15 slide was around 120 metres long with a 40-metre section that covered the highway.

As a result, the geotechnical assessments have recommended construction of a lock-block retaining wall to increase the debris-catchment area and increase safety prior to reopening all lanes. The wall is being designed and construction is expected to begin on Tuesday, May 23.

The ministry said that after an initial geotechnical assessment, crews began clearing the material Monday night.

The road was opened to one lane in each direction just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 17, the highway was closed again for around 90 minutes after a small amount of additional material released from the slope and some movement on the slope was observed.

After further geotechnical assessment and the placement of debris-containment measures along the road surface, the highway was reopened to single-lane alternating traffic.

The ministry is continuing to monitor the slope and the highway will be closed if further movement is detected before the retaining wall can be installed.

Engineers have deemed the highway safe for travel, although it is restricted to single-lane alternating traffic through the holiday weekend and into the following week while work takes place. At this time, the ministry does not have a timeline for when all lanes will be restored.

This location does not have an extensive history of slides. A couple of weeks before the May 15 slide occurred, there was a small slide at the same location that did not affect the highway.

Drivers are told to expect delays and watch for traffic control. Updates will be available at

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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