Million-dollar rockslide?

Chelsea Powrie

Cleanup and fixes at the Highway 97 rockslide site could cost upwards of $1 million before it's all done, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Friday. 

So far, $500,000 has been spent on the rockslide operations including blasting, drilling and 24/7 flagging, as well as on the construction of the Callan Road detour currently servicing the area below the highway. 

"The ultimate cost is really going to be driven by what is the final solution," said Mike Lorimer, executive director for southern interior highways with the ministry.

"If we're able to reach that stable face and remove the rock that's on site we're estimating another three or four hundred thousand dollars, but if we're into something that we have to construct that will be based on the geotechnical assessment, and that range would be tough to say at this time."

There has been no slide movement since Wednesday, but warming temperatures are a concern as the freeze/thaw cycle comes into play.

"That's one of the things that we will be monitoring and assessing through the weekend and the coming days, and I think that's going to be a real test of the stability of the site, and that's the other reason why we're staying on the [Callan Road] detour," Lorimer said. "We haven't seen impacts from [freeze and thaw] yet."

Crews have removed overhanging rock from the slide area which had been a concern for further rockfall. Between 700 and 800 cubic metres of rock have been taken away so far, with a further 6,000 still to come.

The ministry will assess progress again on Tuesday after the long weekend, and hopes to establish an expected time of reopening then. 

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