Hwy. 97 expected to reopen
north of Summerland today

Special to OsoyoosToday

The phone keeps ringing at the La Punte Norte bed and breakfast off Hwy. 97 north of Summerland. But callers aren’t potential guests.

They’re just phoning to see if Colleen Davis can tell them what’s going on with efforts to clear rock debris that has closed the highway since the weekend.

La Punta is a few hundred metres from where the slide occurred

“I guess because we’re so close to where the closure is, we can tell them how the work is going,” Ms. Davis said Tuesday.

Other callers wonder if Ms. Davis can tell them of a “secret way” around the closed section of highway. (Save the long distance charge; there isn’t one.)

The good news for both her and commuters?

Vehicles are tentatively expected to start moving again this afternoon

Crews have removed thousands of cubic metres of rock in an effort to stabilize the slope and make it safe for the highway to reopen.

“While we are hoping to have the road reopened to traffic (Wednesday) afternoon, this depends on the progress that is made (Tuesday),” the B.C. Transportation Ministry said in a statement.

Early cleanup work focused on bringing down any remaining material so that it could be hauled away in trucks.

“The blasting that took place at the site (Monday) went well, as approximately 100 cubic metres of material was brought down, resulting in improved access at the site,” the ministry’s statement explained.

“Now that the hill is more accessible, we have been able to increase the number of rock scalers from seven up to 10 . . . and we now have two excavators and a rock hammer on site to keep building the access up the slope.”

More drilling and blasting took place Tuesday to bust up large boulders and rock slabs.

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

A number of detours are available to get drivers around the slide area, but the shortest still adds 90 minutes to the usual commute time between Penticton and Kelowna.

That route takes drivers east from Penticton over the 201 Forest Service Road to Highway 33.

For motorists in Osoyoos, the quickest route to Kelowna is to take Hwy. 3 east to Rock Creek and then turn north on Hwy. 33.

— The Penticton Herald


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