District of Summerland ready for extra traffic diverting through town as Highway 97 slide fix continues

Slide packs back roads

Some travellers heading through Summerland have been opting to take the detour route through Bottleneck Drive and Giant's Head to avoid the lineup on Highway 97, and the district is ready for them.

On Monday, May 15, a silt and clay bluff beside Highway 97 crashed down and covered all four lanes of the highway.

The highway has been open to single-lane alternating traffic and is expected to be so "until further notice," according to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as they work on building a retaining wall and stabilizing the area before the highway reopens fully.

The district had a detour set up in place to also guide people through the town instead of waiting on the highway as an option.

District of Summerland CAO Graham Statt said the detour so far seems to be "working really well" and they have yet to hear concerns from local residents in the area.

"I know at the very beginning of this slide, some of the large trucks were trying to divert using that bypass and the problem was it's a hard corner to make in an 18 Wheeler," he said.

"We haven't seen any more problems with the truck traffic sites. So it's going really well and I will say the timing worked out well, that most of that road is now repaved."

With tourism season kicking off across the Okanagan, Statt said they are not concerned about the volume increase on local roads.

"We hope that we see a large volume of the travelling public using that road, which does serve a number of our really popular wineries in the area," he added.

The concern that the district is planning for is potential speeding on the roads.

"We do have concerns that it could result in some people disobeying the speed limit, so we're working with the RCMP, ICBC and others to introduce good signage, traffic calming measures, enforcement, and some new radar sites on site that will help calm traffic in the area," Statt said.

"We've seen good success in that regard with some of our other road projects in the past."

The district asks for travellers to be "courteous, safe and patient with each other," as the work continues on the highway.

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