Highway 97 near Summerland still closed, alternate route highlighted

There is no estimated reopening time, however an update is expected today at noon

A rock slide north of Summerland has resulted in a road closure, a detour is now in place photo: MoTI Okanagan Shuswap Twitter

Update 3:17 p.m.

Crews are preparing to blast at the site of the rock slide north of Summerland.

The highway remains closed to vehicle traffic due to significant rock fall and continued movement at the site.

A statement from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says between 4,000 and 6,000 cubic metres of rock has fallen at this location.

To put this into perspective, an Olympic swimming pool has a capacity of 2,500 cubic metres.

The blasting plan is to work at the top of the slope to locate a solid rock to drill and blast..

This will provide more stability for the slope and will allow staff to remove all lose and unstable rock and eventually reopen the route.

Update 1:07 p.m.

Highway 97 remains closed north of Summerland and rock scalers are continuing to work the slope.

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton reports that the rock scaling team, geotechnical engineers and other experts have identified a blast line that is being drilled for blasting later this afternoon.

After the blasting, further evaluation will be required to ensure slope stability has been obtained.

When the slope has been stabilized, debris removal can occur and limited traffic flow can begin again.

However, the road might not be opened until some time tomorrow

6:21 a.m.

The portion of Highway 97 that links the South Okanagan to the rest of the valley is still closed, though there are other routes now approved to travel.

An alternate route between Penticton and Kelowna is available for light vehicles weighing five tonnes or less using the 201 Forest Service Road.

In a statement Sunday evening, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said the highway is anticipated to be closed for an extended period of time due to continued instability at the site. Ministry staff are working to have Highway 97 reopened to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so.

The alternate route is accessed off Highway 33 near McCollough Road near Kelowna, and via Warren Avenue/Carmi Avenue in Penticton.

Second alternative route available for #BCHWY97, closed North of #Summerland. Access between Penticton and Kelowna via the 201 FSR. Access via #BCHWY33 and McCulloch Rd near Big White or via Warren Ave/Carmi Ave in Penticton. Max. 5 tonne vehicle only. Check DriveBC for updates.

Drivers using this route can expect up to 90 minutes of additional travel time compared to normal travel time between Summerland and Peachland on Highway 97. Travel using other alternate unmaintained routes is not recommended and is being discouraged for safety reasons.

Heavier vehicles and commercial trucks are required to detour via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3A to Highway 3.

It’s a route that travelers should get used to for the short term, at least.

Dan Ashton, MLA for Penticton, reports that the rock scaling is continuing at the rock slide on Highway 97 north of Summerland, but the road will not reopen for some time.

“Under a best case scenario the closure will remain In effect until at least some point this evening at the earliest,” he said. “It is also possible the closure could extend into tomorrow or early next week.”

An official update is expected at noon today.

Drivers are reminded to slow down and drive with caution when using the two-lane 201 Forest Service Road, and to check DriveBC.ca and @DriveBC on Twitter for updates on the Highway 97 closure.

Road maintenance vehicles will be actively working on this route to ensure safe road conditions.

The ministry understands the inconvenience to drivers, and appreciates peoples’ patience as crews work to ensure the road is safe for reopening as soon as possible.

RELATED: Driver films rock slide that closes Highway 97

Rockscalers are continuing to work the slope after working overnight, however there is no estimated time of opening available.

Alternate routes are available, according to the Drive BC drivers are able to take a detour via Highway 97-C, Highway 5A and Highway 3A to Highway 3.

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