UPDATE: Highway crews working to repair Highway 97 in Vernon after sinkhole opens up - InfoNews

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UPDATE: Highway crews working to repair Highway 97 in Vernon after sinkhole opens up

A sinkhole opened up on Highway 97 Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
Image Credit: Dave Deshane
May 31, 2017 - 2:05 PM

VERNON - A large sinkhole continues to impact traffic at one of Vernon’s busiest intersections.

Highway 97 opened up yesterday, May 30, with a sinkhole at the bottom of Hospital Hill, at the junction with Highway 6.

Ministry of Transportation crews are on site working to repair a culvert that gave out, and Okanagan-Shuswap district manager Jack Bennetto says they hope to finish by the weekend.

The sinkhole repair on Highway 97 in Vernon.
The sinkhole repair on Highway 97 in Vernon.
Image Credit: TWITTER/B.C. Transportation

“Crews will be working non-stop,” Bennetto says, noting they will set up lighting and work through the night.

The exact cause of the failure is unknown, although Bennetto says it definitely had to do with high water and fast flows in Vernon Creek, which runs out of Polson Park and flows underneath the highway.

“It’s quite likely been a weak spot for a while. It was likely eroding for quite a few days, maybe a short number of weeks,” he says.

He’s says it’s quite lucky that no vehicles fell into the large hole.

Southbound lanes of the highway are open to single lane traffic in both directions, however the usual northbound lanes will remain closed until further notice.

Motorists are advised to watch for ministry personnel and flaggers and check Drive B.C. for the latest updates.

Bennetto says this week’s temporary repairs will hold well into the summer, at which time crews will return to do a comprehensive investigation. At the moment, high water and poor visibility is hampering efforts to see exactly where the culvert failed. Due to the murkiness, underwater cameras cannot get a clear picture.

— This story was updated at 11:38 a.m. May 31, 2017 to add new information from the Ministry of Transportation and again at 2 p.m. to include an interview with Jack Bennetto. 

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