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Okanagan commuters schedules halted after rock slide

Highway 97 remains closed after a rock slide on Saturday

Okanagan College students and professors are marooned.

The rock slide that has shut down Highway 97 over the weekend is now affecting the work week for many people who commute to work or school in the Okanagan.

Megan Potter, organizer for the Okanagan College Student Union at the Penticton campus travelled to Kelowna last week and now considers herself lucky because she can work remotely from the Kelowna campus until the rocks slide is cleared.

RELATED: Highway 97 near Summerland still closed, alternate route highlighted

“I am stuck here today,” said Potter. “We are monitoring events and postponing activities (on campus) and I am trying to make it known to students and staff that I am here to answer any questions and concerns that they have.”

Potter says that for some classes midterm exams have already started and that some classes have gone digital to stay on track.

“A large mixture of staff and students are being impacted by this,” said Potter.

Les, a dispatcher at Van-Kam Freightways Ltd. says that they too are affected by the highway closure. They cannot get freight to the south end of the valley.

“We are not making any of our appointments at this time, because all of our freight comes from Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton. They are on schedule, but we can’t maintain our schedule,” said Les.

Highway 97 remains closed north of Summerland and rock scalers are continuing to work the slope. The rock scaling team, geotechnical engineers and other experts have identified a blast line that is being drilled for blasting this afternoon according to Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.

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.

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