September 29, 2016 - 10:49 AM
KAMLOOPS - A slide has shut down Highway 99 near Lillooet.
About 15 kilometres west of Lillooet the ground has started to shift in the 10 Mile Slide area, forcing the Ministry of Transportation to close the highway.
Mike Lorimer with the ministry says it’s common for the area to experience shifting earth, but over the past few days it’s been much more active.
“It’s something that’s been moving for the past number of decades,” he says. “We often see small movements and then stabilization.”
However, over the past few days the land under the highway has shifted three feet, causing some damage to the surface of the highway. The highway is being closed until the ground is once again stable, until at least Monday, Oct. 3.
“Really in the short term we need to see the slide stabilize itself,” Larimer says. “Once we’re able to open to we’ll likely see some sort of load restriction.”
While the highway is closed the Xaxli’p First Nation have declared a state of emergency as the closure cuts off an important route for band members, according to a media release.
“Xaxli’p supports the closure, and during this time of emergency, we will be working closely with Ministry of Transportation and the Regional District of Lillooet to make sure public safety comes first,” Chief Darrell Bob says in the release.
The area that’s closed is only a couple hundred meters long and can be crossed on foot if someone must, Lorimer says. No one is isolated though some may face long rerouting through Cache Creek.
When the area is stable once again some surface repairs will be needed.
Geotechnical engineers are studying the Ten Mile Slide area to try and find out the underlying cause of the ongoing issue.
“We’ve been in there for the last 6 months trying to really understand the mechanism of the slide,” Larimer says.
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