Large pieces of unstable slope over Hwy 97 in Summerland still need to be removed

Work on unstable hwy slope

The provincial government says there is nearly 4,000 cubic metres of unstable material on the slope above Highway 97 in Summerland at the site of two recent landslides.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said Wednesday geotechnical assessments have determined that material will have to be safely brought down.

On May 15, the 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 MoTI.

Crews started constructing a lock-block retaining wall to increase the debris-catchment area and increase safety before re-opening additional lanes after a geotechnical assessment was conducted.

Construction of the retaining wall began on May 23 and the ministry said at the time they anticipated the wall will take approximately two weeks to complete, subject to weather and site conditions.

Then, another slide occurred Monday night, 200 metres north of the original.

MoTI said the only impact from the second slide was to the ongoing construction of the retaining wall, which had to stop work while the area was flown and assessed for safety.

"Our geotechnical engineers have also recommended additional measures to strengthen the effectiveness of the retaining wall, so we now anticipate construction will continue for at least an additional week," MoTI said in a statement to Castanet.

"In the meantime, our geotechnical engineers are working on a plan to bring the unstable slope material down safely once construction of the retaining wall is completed."

Once crews have safely brought down the unstable material, the ministry plans to relocate the lock blocks to the shoulder and open the additional lanes. At the time, there is still no estimation on when Highway 97 could fully reopen.

Drivers should expect delays and watch for traffic control.

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