With Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland closed due to a rock slide and no estimated time of reopening, B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation announced a new alternative route for light vehicles under five tons Friday afternoon.
The route includes the Princeton-Summerland Road, west of Summerland, the Trout Creek Forest Service Road and the Peachland Forest Service Road to Princeton Avenue in Peachland. (See map on page A2.)
The route has been plowed and graded, and directional signage is in place.
The trip between Peachland and Summerland using the Trout Creek route will take about an hour and 45 minutes, taking 45 minutes’ travel time off using the 201 Forest Service Road on the east side of Okanagan Lake.
The route will save time for those living south of the William R. Bennett Bridge who are travelling to Penticton.
For those driving between Kelowna and Penticton, the 201 Forest Service Road remains the fastest alternative route.
Motorists using the alternative routes should have good winter tires, drive with caution and obey the speed limit.
Argo Road Maintenance is maintaining both forest service roads and with snow falling has dedicated extra equipment for plowing and sanding.
Paula Cousins, deputy director for the Ministry of Transportation’s Southern Interior office, cautioned motorists against using unmaintained alternative routes for safety reasons.
Commercial vehicles will continue to use the detour on Highways 97C, 5A, 3 and 3A.
Meanwhile, work continues on construction of a two-lane detour from Callan Road to Highway 97 south of the slide that will accommodate both light and commercial vehicles.
As of Friday afternoon, work was ongoing using two pieces of heavy machinery on two 10-hour shifts.
With no unexpected challenges, the Callan Road detour is expected to be open to traffic early next week. Cousins could not say whether the route will be open in time for Monday’s commute.
She was hopeful the ministry will have more information late Sunday afternoon about when the detour would open.
At the site of the slide, the slope remains unstable with between three to five millimetres of movement measured Friday morning, ruling out the use of heavier drilling equipment.
Eight scalers working on ropes with two ground support workers were on site Friday.
Emergency vehicles are being piloted through the slide zone again.
A small slide south of Summerland Friday morning that Cousins called typical for this time of year was not related to the major rock slide between Summerland and Peachland.
Silt falling from the bluff was caught in the ditch and catchment area and did not reach the highway.
Go online to Drivebc.ca for the most up-to-date information.