When a landslide or rock slide blocks Highway 97 in the Okanagan Valley, it can have significant consequences.
From late April to the middle of May, three landslides on the Summerland portion of the highway disrupted traffic. These slides, from silt bluffs, covered a portion of the highway and motorists could not proceed until crews had cleared the silt.
Because of the location of these slides, detours were possible, routing vehicles through the community to connect with the highway at the downtown core.
However, past incidents along the highway have had a far greater impact on transportation in the region.
In October 2008, the highway between Peachland and Summerland was closed for three weeks. A fault in the rock resulted in a slide. The instability of the cliff resulted in the decision to close the portion of the highway.
In July 2014, another rock slide in the same area resulted in another shutdown of the highway.
In early 2019, the same area experienced another slide. Alternate routes were later opened, but these forest road routes required lengthy detours during winter conditions.
There are other British Columbia highways where a landslide or rock slide could have significant consequences.
Some of this province’s highways provide the only access to certain B.C. communities. In other cases, a highway closure could result in detours of hundreds of kilometres.
In 2021, severe flooding damaged portions of the Coquihalla Highway. This left some motorists stranded and it affected supply chains and transportation of goods from one part of the province to another.
And in past years, there have been road closures as a result of nearby wildfires.
Crews respond quickly when a landslide or rock slide blocks a provincial highway. Their work is appreciated and their efforts help to keep people, goods and services moving.
Still, these incidents show the importance of maintaining a good and effective highway system to connect people and communities throughout the province.
– Black Press