The Meadows in the Sky Parkway will be open to the summit area of Mount Revelstoke National Park starting Thursday after repair works were completed Wednesday on a section of road that was compromised by a landslide.
The media was invited to the construction area Wednesday afternoon while Parks Canada highway crews were busy placing concrete guard rails in place as part of the last bit of a $250,000 repair job that involved re-aligning a 25-metre stretch of the parkway.
The landslide occurred at kilometre 15.5 of the parkway when an unnamed creek caused the slope to give way on the downhill side of the roadway. The slide washed away the shoulder but the roadway itself remained intact.
“The slide area itself was discovered in early June when there was still snow on the road and the engineering and geotechnical review was underway by mid-June,” said Rick Reynolds, the Parks operations manager.
To stabilize the roadway, it was moved about 8.5 metres into the mountainside and a gabion wall, consisting of rocks placed in metal cages, was used put in place for support.
Seven workers, two excavators and four trucks worked six days per week starting July 5 to repair the road, said Don Roy, the highway co-ordinator for Parks Canada. He said about 3,000 cubic-metres of dirt and 400 cubic-metres of rock were “moved and relocated” during the operation. The culvert beneath the road was also replaced.
Tourists were being stopped at the Internment Camp lookout at kilometre 14 while the work was being done. They were allowed to walk as far as kilometre 15.
Reynolds said the closure hadn’t reduced visitation numbers but it likely impacted the visitor experience.
“I would say some visitors have definitely been disappointed that they couldn’t drive further although for a portion of this construction they couldn’t have driven any further because of the snow line,” he said.
However, the snow has slowly melted and the road is now drivable to the Balsam Lake parking lot. There was still snow on the final stretch of road leading to the book store, However, the first parking lot was accessible. From there, visitors can walk up to the summit, though there still is snow near the road.
Reynolds said Parks would be looking for other instabilities along the parkway but that they were very difficult to detect.
“This is the first significant instability we’ve ever had – or certainly in the last 30 years,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t detect them until they happen.”
The repairs were initially expected to finish in late-July, so the July 21 opening is a plus. The newly repaired stretch of road is not yet paved – that will be done in the fall – and a slow sign will be put in place to warn drivers.