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UPDATE: Hwy 97 expected to reopen to traffic within the week

(UPDATE: Feb. 26 @ 12:40 p.m.) - Work continues at the site of the Hwy 97 slide north of Summerland.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's monitoring shows now new slope movement over the past 12 days, which has allowed excavators to work consistently over that time.

Crews have now removed around 13,000 cubic metres of material from the area since the slide occurred and its estimated that 14,000 cubic metres of material still needs to be removed.

That total of 27,000 cubic metres is around three times more than originally estimated as the back slope is much deeper than expected.

The Ministry now estimates that traffic will be restored to Hwy 97 early next week.

In the meantime, the Callan Road detour continues to function well and is open 24 hours a day with occasional stoppages for blasting.

(UPDATE: Feb. 22 @ 2:05 p.m.) - Traffic was slowed on Hwy 97 near Summerland today, but not for anything to do with the slide that's plagued the area for the last three weeks.

A separate slide, this one south of Summerland, occurred just after 9:30 a.m. as a silt bluff came down onto the highway.

"The slide was in a different location than the Callan Road slide and is completely unrelated," said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

It was down to single lane alternating traffic at one point, but vehicles are once again moving smoothly in both directions as crews continue to clear debris.

There's been no recent updates on the Callan Road slide and at last word, crews were hoping to reopen the highway north of Summerland by the end of next week.

(UPDATE: Feb. 19 @ 12:10 p.m.) - Progress continues to be made at the Hwy 97 slide site as there has been no slope movement over the past five days.

"Excavators continued to pull down material over the weekend and will continue breaking and pulling down rock this week," says the latest release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

"Scalers are not required at this point as work can safely be completed by heavy equipment, but there may still need to be a few more sections scaled and/or blasted as we work towards an opening."

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

If there is no severe weather or slope movement in the next few days, the Ministry hopes to open traffic to Hwy 97 by the end of next week.

In the meantime, the Callan Road detour continues to function well and provide traffic with a bypass that comes with minimal delays.

NowMedia will continue to update this story as the Ministry provides more information.

(UPDATE: Feb. 15 @ 2:15 p.m.) - More positive news is coming from the Hwy 97 slide site as there has been no slide movement recorded over the past two days.

Geotechnical assessments are ongoing and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is looking to see how the slide reacts as temperatures continue to warm.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

"In addition to scaling activities, an excavator has been safely working the site since Wednesday, after blasting removed some overhanging rock," said a release from the Ministry.

"The excavator is removing rock and creating a ramp up the north side of the slope to allow access for equipment."

Work, including blasting, will continue through the long weekend and there will be delays of up to 45 minutes for the Callan Road detour when blasts do occur.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

(UPDATE: Feb. 14 @ 2:45 p.m.) - Positive news is coming from the site of the Hwy 97 rock slide.

"We are starting to see signs of stabilization at the Hwy 97 closure north of Summerland," says the latest release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

"There was no slide movement at the site overnight, and geotechnical assessments are ongoing."

Scaling and drilling work, which was halted on Tuesday, resumed on Wednesday and blasting continues as well.

The next blast will take place some time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday and will cause up to a 45 minute delay for the Callan Road detour.

There's still no estimated time on when the highway will reopen to traffic, but progress is being made.

(UPDATE: Feb. 12 @ 3:30 p.m.) - Work at the Hwy 97 slide site has stopped for the day.

It was halted due to high winds and snowfall and is expected to resume on Wednesday morning, weather permitting, after a safety assessment.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The next blast at the site is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, at which point there will be a stoppage of up to 45 minutes for traffic using the Callan Road.

Apart from the occasional stoppage for blasting, the detour has been effective for both light vehicles and commercial trucks since it opened at 5 a.m. on Monday.

In the meantime, it remains a mystery on when Hwy 97 will reopen to traffic.

"While there is still no estimated timeline for reopening, we are doing everything possible to have Highway 97 reopened to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so," said a statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. "However, safety for drivers and our crews remains our top priority."

NowMedia will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

(UPDATE: Feb. 11 @ 1:25 p.m.) - The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure continues to observe slope movement on the south side of the Hwy 97 rock slide site.

Crews are still tracking around 3 millimetres of movement per day, similar numbers to what they were measuring late last week.

As a result, there's still no estimated time for the highway to reopen to traffic.


Paula Cousins, deputy director for the southern Interior region, says there's been now movement on the north side of the site, which is a positive.

Drilling and blasting continues in the area as crews try to speed up the process of removing the unstable section of slope.

On the bright side, the Callan Road detour opened to the east of the highway today at 5 a.m., offering motorists a short bypass around the slide site that comes with minimal delays.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

(UPDATE: 1:30 p.m.) - While work continues on the Callan Road detour, a new route is available for vehicles to get around the site of the Hwy 97 rock slide.

The detour, which is only for vehicles under five tons, is on the west side of the lake, utilizing the Trout Creek Forest Service Road.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The route involves the Princeton Summerland Road west of Summerland, the Trout Creek FSR and the Peachland Forest Service Road to Princeton Avenue in Peachland.

For motorists travelling between Peachland and Summerland, it's 45 minutes quicker than the the 201 Forest Service Road detour.

It's even suggested for people commuting between West Kelowna and the South Okanagan.

However, for anyone looking to get between Kelowna and Penticton, the 201 FSR remains the quickest route, although there are current delays on Hwy 33 due to a motor vehicle accident.

The Trout Creek FSR is plowed, graded and sanded with signs in place and there's a speed limit of 50 km/h.

Officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also said that they're aware of the minor rock slide that occurred south of Summerland this morning.

Any rocks and soil fell into the ditch on the west side of the highway, designed and built that way for that very reason, and did not reach Hwy 97.

There was no closure of Hwy 97 as a result of the slide and a geotechnical engineer visited the site to make sure there were no concerns.

The Ministry says that kind of slide it quite common for this time of year.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure</who>Crews work on the Callan Road detour

(UPDATE: Feb. 8 @ 11:25 a.m.) - Drilling and scaling work continues along Hwy 97, just north of Summerland.

The highway remains closed after a significant rock slide nearly a week ago and a geotechnical team continues to see slope movement at the south end.

This morning, between three and five millimetres of new movement was measured.

"There is still no estimated time of reopening," says the latest release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, "and the ministry staff are working hard to have the highway reopened as soon as it is safe to do so."

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure</who>Crews work on the Callan Road detour.

Crews began work on the Callan Road detour on Thursday and that continues 20 hours a day in two 10-hour shifts.

Once complete, which is expected to be early next week, the detour will accommodate all vehicles and make for a detour with very minimal delays for motorists travelling between Peachland and Summerland.

The next update from the province is scheduled for 1 p.m. and NowMedia will continue to update this story as more information is made available.

(UPDATE: Feb. 7 @ noon) - A new detour around the Hwy 97 rock slide near Summerland is in the works, but it's still four or five days away from completion.

Crews have begun working 20 hours per day, in two shifts of 10 hours, using eight pieces of heavy equipment to create the Callan Road detour.

<who>Photo Credit: Google Maps

The work will entail using fill to create around 200 metres of road, connecting Callan Road back to Hwy 97 about 50-75 m south of the slide site.

According to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Paula Cousins, there's still significant movement at the slide site and considerable work ahead before Hwy 97 can reopen to traffic, making the new detour a necessity.

Once the Callan Road detour does open, hopefully by Monday or Tuesday or next week, it'll be able to accommodate all traffic including commercial vehicles.

It'll be one lane of traffic in either direction and a speed limit hasn't been set, but Cousins expects it to be around 50 km/h as safe moment is still the number one priority.

<who>Photo Credit: Transportation BC

In the meantime, the detour via the 201 Forest Service Road is still in place for vehicles under five tons.

That route is being maintained by Argo, which includes plowing and sanding as snow is in the forecast for the Okanagan.

Until that Callan Road detour is in place, any vehicle over five tons will still need to use the detour that uses Hwy 3, Hwy 5A and Hwy 97C.

The next update from the Ministry will come on Friday afternoon.

(UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.) - The discovery of a new and significant crack at the site of the Hwy 97 rock slide today is a large setback in efforts to reopen the road.

Mike Lorimer, executive director of highway operations for the southern Interior, said the road wouldn't open until it's confirmed that the area is safe.

There's no timeline on when that will be, but Lorimer said it'll be "a few days."

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

(UPDATE: Feb. 6 @ 12:15 p.m.) - Hope of Hwy 97 reopening to traffic today is gone after the discovery of a new and significant crack in the slope.

It was discovered this morning and all scaling crews were pulled from the site for safety concerns.

The crack extends approximately 50 metres to the north and south of the current failure.

As a result, the highway won't reopen today and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says there's no current estimated time for it to open.

"Geotechnicial engineers have already begun assessment with a helicopter flight," says the Ministry. "Monitoring of this crack will continue today to determine when work can safety resume."

The alternate routes that have been in place over recent days remain available for drivers and the Ministry is discouraging motorists from using unmaintained routes.

(UPDATE: Feb. 5 @ 3 p.m.) - Progress continues to be made at the site of the rock slide on Hwy 97, says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Blasting on Monday brought down around 100 cubic metres of material, improving access at the site and increasing the number of rock scalers from seven to 10.

Scalers have moved up the slope and there's now two excavators and a rock hammer on site to keep building the access up the slope.

The province's maintenance contractor, Argo, is removing as much material as soon as possible after blasting with the use of large off-highway rock trucks.

The highway remains closed to traffic, but the Ministry is hoping to reopen the road to traffic on Wednesday afternoon, depending on the progress that's made today.

"More drilling and blasting is taking place throughout the day today, as large boulders and rock fragments are being drilled and blasted," says a release from the Ministry.

"Once this debris is removed, geotechnical engineers will re-assess the slope to determine what other steps need to be taken."

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

For vehicles under five tons, an alternate route has been established on the 201 Forest Service Road, which is accessed off Hwy 33 near McCollough Road in Kelowna and via Warren Avenue/Carmi Avenue in Penticton.

That detour will tack on an extra 90 minutes of travel time for drivers compared to the normal trip between Peachland and Summerland.

Larger vehicles and commercial trucks will have to take the much lengthier detour involving Hwy 3, Hwy 5A and Hwy 97C.

(Original story: Feb. 4 @ 2 p.m.) - It looks like Hwy 97 won’t be opening back up to traffic any time soon.

The highway remains closed just north of Summerland after a significant rock slide and continued movement at the site.

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

According to B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, between 4,000 and 6,000 cubic metres of rock has fallen at the location.

“The latest geotechnical assessment has been completed, and the plan is to work at the top of the slope to locate solid rock to drill and blast,” said Brendan Phelps, a public affairs officer with the ministry.

“This will provide more stability for the slope, and allow ministry staff to remove all loose and unstable rock and eventually reopen the route.”

Phelps says the first blast at the top of the slope will happen at 3 p.m. today and it’ll provide a better indication of how to proceed, as well as an expected timeline.

“We appreciate peoples’ patience while ministry staff work to create stability for travel along this section of Hwy 97,” he said. “Safety is our top priority, and we will reopen the road as soon as it is safe to do so.”

<who>Photo Credit: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

For vehicles under five tons, an alternate route has been established on the 201 Forest Service Road, which is accessed off Hwy 33 near McCollough Road in Kelowna and via Warren Avenue/Carmi Avenue in Penticton.

The road is maintained by the province and is in good condition as there’s active logging in the area.

That detour will tack on an extra 90 minutes of travel time for drivers compared to the normal trip between Peachland and Summerland.

“The speed limit along the 201 Forest Service Road is 50 km/h, and people must drive with caution along this route, which does not typically experience a high volume of traffic,” Phelps explained.

“Travel using other alternate unmaintained routes is not recommended and is being discouraged for safety reasons.”

Larger vehicles and commercial trucks will have to take the much lengthier detour involving Hwy 3, Hwy 5A and Hwy 97C.



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