Highway 3 reopens after rock slide

Highway 3 reopened this afternoon after a rock slide occurred nine kilometres west of Keremeos yesterday.
Image Credit: google maps

PENTICTON - Highway 3 west of Keremeos has reopened to traffic.

Another rock slide occurred Tuesday afternoon in the same location where at least three previous slides have occurred in the past year.

The highway re-opened this afternoon after a helicopter assessment of the mountain slope took place this morning.

It's not the first time slides in this area closed the highway. On January 27, 2014, a massive slide, containing boulders the size of pickup trucks, occurred on a four lane stretch of Highway 3, approximately nine kilometres west of Keremeos. Two vehicles were damaged, hydro and fibre optic cables were damaged and the highway was shut down for four days while Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure crews assessed the mountainside.

The highway reopened late on January 31 after a protective earthen berm was constructed in the westbound travelling lane of the highway.

At least two other minor slides have occurred in the area prior to yesterday’s - one on May 4, which damaged a semi-trailer, and another on June 27 that also damaged two vehicles.

The slide material is coming from a point on the mountain high above the road. Ministry personnel developed a plan to deal with the problem over the summer and recently completed a three metre high concrete catchment wall that did not catch all of the rock that fell on Tuesday.

Jeff Wiseman, District Operations Manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in an email Wednesday ministry staff were attending the site and traffic control had been established. He said there was no estimate regarding the quantity of material that had come down at this time.

A helicopter inspection of the slide site also took place Wednesday morning. After reviewing the assessment, highway authorities reopened the road early this afternoon.

The ministry plans a second phase to the work already begun at the slide site, which includes excavation of the mountain slope to create a wider ditch, a large catchment area as well as to re-establish the highway to four lanes. That work is scheduled to take place during the summer of 2015.

Motorists are advised to watch for updates on DriveBC.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

This story was modified to include information regarding re-opening of the highway on the afternoon of  December 10.

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