Drivers who regularly use the Malahat are using extra caution after a rockslide temporarily closed northbound lanes on Sunday morning.
After the incident, a geotechnical engineer was on-site to assess the area and determined there weren’t any major concerns.
“It’s a typical B.C. highway problem,” said Andrew Gaetz, quality assurance and operations for Emcon Services Inc., road and bridge maintenance contractor for South Vancouver Island.
“Rockfalls are inevitable, so we try to increase our response times.”
According to multiple social media posts, the rockslide took place just after 9 a.m. between Goldstream Provincial Park and Ice Cream Mountain. Cleanup crews were on site shortly after 11 a.m. to begin dealing with the fallen rocks.
At the time, traffic was backed up to Leigh Road and drivers were told to use Finlayson Arm Road as a detour path. Crews had completed clearing the area by 1 p.m. and traffic congestion began easing up. West Shore RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has the choice to consider capital funding for options to deal with rockslides, such as rock fencing or rock scaling, in which workers remove any loose rock from slopes while suspended from ropes.
“Many parts of the Malahat have been drilled and blasted so there is room for rock falls to go into small ditches,” Gaetz said. “Notably, rock faces are noticeably closer to the roadways around Goldstream.”
This means that blasting and drilling isn’t the first option for the ministry, as doing so would heavily affect traffic along these narrow parts of the Malahat.
“We just want to make sure that when rockfalls happen, the damage is minimal. This time, it only affected northbound traffic, which is a better result than scattering across both sides of the Malahat,” Gaetz said.