Skip to content

EDITORIAL: Road work meant slow journey for Okanagan motorists

Highway 97 is an important transportation corridor in the Okanagan
A rock slide north of Summerland was not the first time the section of Highway 97 has been affected. (Black Press file photo)

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has announced that major blasting at a slide site north of Summerland is now completed.

For motorists, this means the lengthy delays will be less frequent, although traffic will still move slowly through the slide area. 

The slide, which occurred in August, 2023, has had ongoing effects for the South Okanagan. The initial road closure resulted in detours which added several hours to transportation times. Later, lengthy road closures — some lasting an hour and a half — were in place for those travelling through the Okanagan. 

Construction-related delays affected access to the South Okanagan, which in turn affected businesses, especially those in the hospitality and tourism sector.

The flow of goods was also affected as the highway is a major route for trucks.

If the 2023 slide had been a one-time incident, there would be a grudging acceptance. However, the rock slide was not an isolated occurrence. There have been several slides in the area north of Summerland in recent years, with each resulting in detours and delays.

Slides in 2008, 2014 and 2019 all occurred in the same area, with each one causing significant transportation disruptions.

Crews are working on stabilizing the rock face in the area, but despite these efforts, it is now time to develop a practical alternate route, in case another slide north of Summerland or elsewhere along the Okanagan portion of Highway 97 results in lengthy detours and delays.

When something goes wrong on Highway 97, it is plain to see that a single highway is not enough for this region.

— Black Press

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

Read more