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Update: Highway 3 to reopen tonight
Transportation Ministry says highway to reopen Thursday at 6 p.m. with a single lane of traffic in each direction.
Motorists were expected to roll back onto Highway 3 late Thursday following a four-day closure prompted by a rock slide about nine kilometres west of Keremeos.
Boulders tumbled down a steep hill and across four lanes of the highway on Monday, which forced the B.C. Transportation Ministry to close the route due to safety concerns.
Ministry spokesman Robert Adam said in a statement Thursday the last rockfall activity was recorded Tuesday, and geotechnical engineers were confident following an assessment that the highway could be reopened to the travelling public.
Workers built a rock berm at the bottom of the slope as an added safety measure to catch any more rocks that might break loose.
No one was hurt in the initial slide, although Penticton woman Karen Searle just barely escaped without injury.
She was on her way to Vancouver to visit family as the hillside started crumbling.
“There were rocks on the road already, and as I was trying to avoid them more rocks came down and, obviously, I couldn’t avoid them because they were moving,” Searle said.
She recalls her 2009 Hyundai Sonata spinning, its airbags deploying, then the vehicle filling with dust or smoke, followed by a loud crash as a boulder landed on her hood.
“The fortunate thing was the momentum of the rocks and the physics of it all pushed me forward around in about a 270-degree counter-clockwise circle. If it had pushed me the other way, I would have been right under the rubble.”
The retiree and seasonal winery worker said she’s considering buying a lotto ticket for this weekend’s draw.
“That’s what everybody’s saying. In fact, when I phoned in to get the file number from the RCMP in Keremeos, the woman said to me, ‘Maybe you want to buy a lotto ticket and use the file numbers in your selection,’” Searle said.
“I didn’t buy one yesterday, but maybe I should for Saturday.”
She also praised those who helped her get back on the road after the incident.
“Kudos to all of the services involved: the RCMP, the paramedics, ICBC, car rental agency. Nothing could have been handled better,” Searle said.
“Everybody was so efficient and so pleasant and I think they did a great job.”