It will be another two to three weeks before a rock slide on Highway 3 at Christina Lake is fully cleared, according to the general manager of highways contractor Yellowhead Road and Bridge.
However, Scott Maxwell says prior to the long weekend, they were able to reopen both lanes while crews were not working.
“We’ve had excavators, loaders, trucks hauling the material away,” he says. “Fortunately in the time we’ve been working there the site has stabilized.”
The slide early on Feb. 9 deposited an estimated 2,000 cubic metres of rock into the ditch and onto the road, temporarily closing it entirely. Crews were able to reopen a single lane later that day.
Work continues from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily with single-lane traffic and delays of up to 20 minutes.
“As the excavators are on the slide, there’s a risk the rock can come down and hit the travel lanes so there are periods we need to keep the highway closed while they’re actively working in certain areas,” he says. “Our goal is to limit the delays to 20 minutes. Of course if safety is a risk, they can be longer than that.”
Maxwell says after the initial slide, there were a series of smaller debris falls, including “one significantly large piece of material which we had to have some specialized crews come in and knock down.”
But he estimates 90 per cent of the material was from the initial slide, typical for an event like this.
He says the work has been bigger than anticipated, as more material came down than first thought and the highway underneath the rock took “some pretty big dings.”
“There is a fairly large ditch there, which is great because it helped absorb some of the rock, but it’s going to take some time to clean all that out,” he says.