May 07, 2014 - 3:48 PM
WEST KELOWNA – A major road in West Kelowna will remain closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic for at least five weeks, according to the District of West Kelowna.
Gellatly Road was closed May 2 after residents noticed the bank supporting it had eroded to the point where it was no longer safe.
District Communication Supervisor Kirsten Jones says they were set to begin planning for upgrades this year, but the sudden collapse has forced them to speed up the repair work.
The historic road was the responsibility of the province until the District of West Kelowna took over two years ago.
“Because the erosion has been occurring for some time, we have made attempts in the past to bolster it but now it’s an emergency situation,” Jones says. “Now we’re working with Emergency Management to figure out just what are we going to do.”
Jones says a geotechnical and hydrological report showed the road to be unstable and will remain closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic for at least the next five weeks.
“The cause is obviously Smith Creek,” she says. “It has eroded away the toe of the bank so anything on top of that is compromised.”
Gellatly Road is a major transport corridor, with a bus stop, utility lines as well as a sewer system running underneath. Approximately 160 metres of the roadway are affected by the erosion, which is spilling down the east side approximately 20 metres onto Smith Creek.
“The challenge with this road is significant,” Jones says. “It’s a very steep section of the bank and the other side of the road is owned by Westbank First Nation so we don’t own that land.”
Jones says the District is looking at ways to repair the bank as soon as possible, but with the creek being fish-bearing, the environmental challenges could push reconstruction back months.
“We’re saying five weeks but we don’t exactly know how we’re going to fix it yet so it’s a little difficult to predict,” she says. “It likely will be at least a five week fix. As soon as we get the go-ahead from Emergency Management and our people have determined what we’re going to do, work will start immediately.”
Since the road was shut down, residents of the designated reroute along Witt and Carrall Road have expressed concerns about the number of cars now speeding past.
“Lots of people are speeding so we’ve lowered the speed limit to 30 km/h and RCMP will be watching it,” she says.
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