Avalanche on Highway 1. (File)

Highway 1 avalanche closure times decreasing around Revelstoke

According to the province, Highway 1 closures can cost $500,000 per hour

It would appear the moniker “Revelstuck” is becoming less appropriate.

The province says since a remote avalanche control system was installed west of Revelstoke, highway closure wait times are significantly decreasing.

In 2016, the B.C. Ministry of Transport spent $6 million constructing four permanent towers at known avalanche paths in the Three Valley Gap.

Avalanche on Highway 1 near Three Valley Gap. (File)

The system triggers slides remotely, meaning avalanche control can be done overnight, which disrupts traffic flows less.

In the past, avalanche control was more dependent on daylight and good weather. It was more common for avalanche technicians to drop bombs on slopes via helicopters.

While the amount of closures has not decreased since 2013, the length of each closures has. For example, in 2014 and 2018 the road was closed 20 times. However, total closure time in 2014 was more than 106 hours, compared to less than 30 hours in 2018.

Regardless, closure times depend on weather, traffic volume and avalanche stability.

READ MORE: Environment Canada says hazardous winter driving conditions for Revelstoke

According to the ministry, Highway 1 closures can cost $500,000 per hour.

Currently, there are 11 remote avalanche control systems in Three Valley Gap and a total of 46 province-wide.

Danielle Pope, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, said since the new systems do not depend on daylight or weather, they can be used 24/7, which is reducing wait times by up to 70 per cent.

On the east side of Revelstoke, Highway 1 goes through Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Park. Parks Canada said over the long term, average closure times have decreased by 11 per cent.

Parks Canada aims for two hour closures for avalanche control, with some lasting up to eight with periods of high avalanche activity.

READ MORE: World’s most extensive avalanche detection system launched on Rogers Pass

This year, the world’s most extensive avalanche detection system was launched on Rogers Pass using Doppler radar and infra sound to monitor sound and electromagnetic waves produced by avalanches.

Parks Canada said the technology is particular useful in low visibility conditions and avalanche technicians will now receive text messages informing them that avalanche activity is occurring.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

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