Highway commuters between Vernon and Kelowna will have to slow down and watch for helicopters for the next week.
According to DriveBC, utility work will take place on Highway 97 southbound between Crystal Waters Road and Old Okanagan Highway until next Tuesday (March 23). The 50-kilometre stretch starts 11 kilometres south of Coldstream and runs to West Kelowna, and work will be done from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
As well, helicopters are being called in to assist with BC Hydro pole removal on Highway 97 southbound between Bailey and Crystal Waters roads. A speed drop to 60 km/h will be in place.
“Watch for lane closures and low-flying helicopters,” AIMRoads said in a Tweet on Tuesday, March 16.
Meanwhile, road dust suppression efforts haven’t countered the poor air quality in the Vernon area. The environment ministry and Interior Health reinstated an advisory for Vernon due to high concentrations of particulate matter.
The provincial air quality objective for particulate matter (PM10), is 50 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over 24 hours. Road dust is emitted into the air when traffic volumes are high and winter traction material is present on dry road surfaces.
As of 9 a.m. March 16, Vernon’s PM10 has soared to 72.3, while Kelowna’s has dropped to 19.4.
The advisory will be in effect until further notice.
Road sweeping is taking place this week in both directions on the highway between Crystal Waters Road and Birnie Road from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. until March 19.
Real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution can be found here.