Highway 97 between Summerland and Peachland was expected to reopen Wednesday, but a new crack in the hillside has delayed work on the slope. File photo

Highway 97 between Summerland and Peachland was expected to reopen Wednesday, but a new crack in the hillside has delayed work on the slope. File photo

New crack in hillside delays Highway 97 reopening

Highway was expected to reopen Wednesday

The reopening of Highway 97 is being delayed, and there is no estimate for when the route might be passable again.

According to the Ministry of Highways, a “new and significant crack in the slope” was discovered early Wednesday morning and all scaling crews have been pulled off the site for safety concerns.

The crack extends approximately 50 metres to the north and south of the current failure.

This new development means that the highway will not be able to reopen Wednesday as hoped.

Related: Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland expected to open today

The slide, just north of Summerland, started Jan. 31 and the major route between the Central and South Okanagan, has been closed to traffic since Feb. 2.

Geotechnical engineers have already begun the assessment with a helicopter flight, and monitoring of this crack will continue today to determine when work can safely resume.

The alternate routes remain in place, and the ministry is strongly discouraging drivers from trying to travel on unmaintained routes.

Related: Penticton Search and Rescue rescues two drivers trying to bypass rockslide closure

The recommended route between Penticton and Kelowna — for light vehicles, five tons or less — is the 201 Forest Service Road, accessed off Highway 33 near McCollough Road near Kelowna, and via Warren Avenue/Carmi Avenue in Penticton.

The speed limit along the 201 Forest Service Road is 50 km/h, and people must drive with caution along this route, which does not typically experience a high volume of traffic. Drivers can expect up to 90 minutes of additional travel time compared to normal travel time between Summerland and Peachland on Highway 97.

Heavier vehicles and commercial trucks are required to detour via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3A to Highway 3.

Check DriveBC.ca and @DriveBC on Twitter for updates on the Highway 97 closure.

Further updates will be provided as soon as there is more information available.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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