Worker safety 'paramount' during clean up of rock slides

By Jill Sperling
January 20, 2018 - 9:42am

KAMLOOPS — Safety is of the utmost importance when cleaning up after a rock slide. 

That's according to Todd Hubner, District Manager of Transportation for the Cariboo. 

Hubner says rock slides, like the one on the Trans-Canada Highway near Spences Bridge on Thursday, require an assessment by geotechnical engineers before clean up can begin. 

"Worker safety in advance of the clean up is paramount," Hubner said. "So, we need to ensure that there is going to be no additional rock to come down that would impede the clean up. But, we also want to ensure the clean up is done in a fashion that doesn't put anyone in peril." 

Thursday's slide prevented travel on the highway for more than 24-hours. The clean up was further complicated by a transport truck that had been caught in the path of the falling rocks. 

"We worked closely with the carrier on the extrication of (the truck)," Hubner said. "That couldn't be completed until the heavy equipment was on site (Friday). Some of the material had fallen, and the truck had actually ridden up on top of it, so it was kind of high-centred if you will. They had to bring in a heavy haul wrecker to basically remove the trailer portion from the tractor first, and then that would be put to the side." 

According to Hubner the driver of the truck was uninjured.

Hubner says rock slides are typical of this time of year, especially when temperatures vary from cold to mild. 

"We've had a lot of freeze/thaw conditions. So, you get what's called frost-jacking. You get joint patterns in your rocks that over the winter months they will accumulate precipitation ... and then it will freeze, and then it will thaw. And, of course as water freezes it expands. At some point in time that expansion basically overrides gravity and we get those joint patterns releasing." 

The Trans-Canada Highway near Spences Bridge was opened to single-lane alternating traffic shortly before 6 p.m. Friday. 

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