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  • Disaster Closes Olympic Highway


    Traffic backs up for construction on the Sea to Sky highway in this file photo. (ATR)
    (ATR) Olympic highway construction has come to a screeching halt because of a rockslide near Porteau Cove late July 29.

    "It could be a very lengthy closure," said Squamish RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dave Ritchie. He does not know for certain whether any vehicles are buried under the debris, which is 9 meters deep and 30 meters wide.

    The Sea-to-Sky highway is undergoing a $600 million expansion and upgrade -- in-part to prevent rockslides -- for the 2010 Games.

    The late night rockslide with boulders bigger than trucks has covered the highway and washed out railway tracks. Whistler and Squamish have lost their only southern road and rail link to Vancouver until further notice.

    Though the 2010 Games' transport plan remains unfinished, VANOC has previously said that motorcoaches would be the main mode of people-moving between Vancouver and the Whistler snow venues. Plans to use the railway and ferries on the waters of Howe Sound were shelved after Vancouver's bid won in 2003.

    Southwestern B.C. has been hit by heavy rains since July 29. Authorities are breathing a sigh of relief, however. The highway saw record traffic volumes on July 27 after 40,000 people attended the three-day Pemberton Music Festival headlined by Coldplay.

    Written by Bob Mackin

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