Highway 97’s stretch between Peachland and Summerland is expected to maintain its two-lane configuration throughout the majority of the upcoming winter season. The highway, which reopened a little over a month ago due to a rockslide in late August, is still undergoing critical restoration processes to ensure long-term safety and functionality.
Steve Sirett, the head of Southern Interior Highways, mentioned that their team is actively constructing a sizable berm. This not only aids in stabilizing the hillside but also paves the way for successive phases of risk mitigation. Recent developments saw the highway temporarily close for two hours to conduct blasting operations, dislodging an approximate 100 cubic meters of debris.
The blasting, Sirett elaborated, is essential for clearing the large amounts of debris that obstructed the highway earlier this summer. This procedure is also a cornerstone of the long-term stabilization strategy for that particular highway segment. Anticipating the need for ongoing cleanup, the blasting endeavors are forecasted to persist throughout the winter, targeting an estimated removal of 60,000 cubic meters of slide debris. As the cleaning phase concludes, the winter will also see the introduction of stabilizing measures like bolt and rock anchor installations.
While this might pose inconveniences for those frequenting Hwy 97, especially between south and central Okanagan, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation ensures minimal disruption. Sirett further adds that insights from the impending blasting activities will shape the highway’s closure blueprint for the forthcoming months. He remains optimistic about establishing a predictable pattern shortly, providing travelers with enhanced predictability.
For those navigating Highway 97, vigilance is advised. Regularly monitor DriveBC for real-time updates on closures, and always heed the guidance from traffic control signs and personnel.