British Columbia

Crews pulled off the job after 'new and significant' crack discovered on rock slide slope

The Ministry of Transportation says the newly discovered crack makes it too dangerous for crews to work below it on a landslide that hit Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland, B.C., last weekend

Okanagan commuters are frustrated as Highway 97 remains closed near Summerland, B.C.

Ministry of Transportation is unable to say when the highway between Peachland and Summerland in B.C.'s Okanagan will re-open to traffic due to the discovery of a 100-metre crack in the slope near the slide. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation)

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says a "new and significant crack" has been discovered on the slope where a rock slide occurred on Highway 97 between Peachland and Summerland, B.C., last weekend.

"All scaling crews have been pulled off the site for safety concerns," said a release from the ministry.

"This new development means that the highway will not be able to reopen today, and there is no current estimated time for reopening," said the statement.

The crack, discovered early Wednesday morning extends 50 meters to the north and south of the rock slide area.

Geotechnical engineers are assessing the area by helicopter and monitoring the crack to determine when work can resume.

"The 'when" will be when its safe,' said ministry spokesperson Mike Lorimer, executive director of highway operations for the Southern Interior Region.

'Too uncertain and unstable'

"Until we can stabilize the upper part of the failure it's too uncertain and unstable to have crews working down below it," said Tom Kneale with the Ministry of Transportation.

An aerial view of the slide area near Summerland, B.C., above the shores of Lake Okanagan. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation)

The route is still closed to vehicle traffic, and motorists are being asked to take assigned detours instead of following their GPS.

The highway is the major corridor between Kelowna and Penticton and the long detours have frustrated many drivers.

"We reiterate that travel using other alternate unmaintained routes is not recommended and is being discouraged for safety reasons," said the ministry.

The Feb. 2 rockslide closed Highway 97 in both direction between Peachland and Summerland, B.C. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation)

Alternate routes remain in place, and drivers are reminded to check and @DriveBC on Twitter for up-to-date information.