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VIDEO: 150-metre wall being built at Summerland rock slide site

Still no timeline given when Highway 97 will re-open

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is building a 150-metre wall to help open Highway 97 at the rock slide in Summerland but there is still no timeline of when the road will re-open.

During the long weekend, Penticton contractors Chute Creek Construction built a large lock block wall to protect the highway from falling rock. Crews are now working on the 150-metre-long buttress, said the Ministry in a release.

“Geotechnical engineers continue to monitor and assess data from sensors at the slide site. The sensors show a steady continuing movement of the slope, and the highway remains closed to protect public safety due to the risk of further rockfall.”

There is currently no estimate on when the highway will reopen, pending the engineering assessments. However the lock block wall and buttress will support a safe reopening of the highway when engineers deem it safe to do so, said MOTI.

It was Aug. 28 when large boulders and power poles came crashing down onto Highway 97 north of Summerland.

The rockfall has closed the highway ever since, cutting off South Okanagan from Central Okanagan.

The extended closure has caused huge hardship for those working on either side of the slide.

Some have been taking the 201 Forest Service Road which adds up to 90 minutes of travel time to their daily commute. Others have been staying with friends or family during the week while they work.

Two Summerland Secondary teachers who live in Peachland have been taking the unusual route of leaving a vehicle on either end of the slide and biking an old Fur Brigade trail past Peachland to Summerland to get to work.

READ MORE: Summerland teachers find unique way to bypass the slide to get to work

Some have been taking the Route 70 bus from Penticton to Kelowna through the detour route. The bus only costs $5 each way but does add almost another two hours to the commute.

Luxury Lake Tours has been offering a boat taxi from Peachland to Summerland.

People interested in booking spots on Barr’s water taxi are asked to contact 250-859-4187, or visit

Originally, the only official detour around and the one still being used by semi trucks is highways 97C, 5A or 33. Those routes take over three hours each way.

Since the slide, MOTI has upgraded two routes for passenger vehicles on two forest service roads:

For travel between Penticton and Kelowna: there is the 201 Forest Service Road, accessed off Highway 33 near McColloch Road southwest of Kelowna and via Fairview/Industrial/Dartmouth/Carmi avenues in Penticton.

For travel between Summerland and Peachland: the Trout Main to Peachland Forest Service Road, accessed off Princeton Avenue in Peachland and Princeton Summerland Road in Summerland.

Drivers are reminded that the forest service roads are unpaved and will add up to 90 minutes of travel time. Graders are working continuously, however, drivers will still experience some rough conditions and should ensure their vehicles are properly equipped and fuelled or charged. Cell coverage is very limited throughout both routes. Drivers are also encouraged to plan trips during daylight and drive with caution.

READ MORE: Boat taxi offered for detour around slide

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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