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Highway may reopen Sunday

Final blast of granite overhang scheduled for this afternoon

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There is a chance the Sea to Sky Highway could reopen on Sunday, a day ahead of the predicted opening.

At a Porteau Cove news conference this morning the chief geotechnical engineer for the Ministry of Transportation, Mike Oliver, said three blasts to remove a granite overhang had taken place since Thursday afternoon. A fourth blast will be done this afternoon and it is hoped that will remove the last of the overhang.

Once the overhanging granite is brought down and scaling completed crews can then begin removing the rock that fell in the blasts and in Tuesday night’s rock slide.

Officials now estimate the slide brought down about 10,000 cubic metres of rock just north of Porteau Cove. The first blast produced another 3,000 cubic metres and the two later blasts about 300 cubic metres each. That’s roughly the same amount of material it would take to cover the B.C. Lions’ playing field, including end zones, to a depth of about 1.75 metres or five feet and nine inches.

After the rock is removed the highway itself will have to be resurfaced. Oliver said “potentially” the highway could reopen Sunday. Earlier estimates had the highway reopening on Monday.

The highway has been closed since the slide occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. No one was injured, although a bus traveling in the area had several windows smashed by falling rocks.

With the highway closed, people in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton who have needed to get to the Lower Mainland have taken water taxis from Squamish to Horseshoe Bay, helicopter and fixed-wing flights, or driven over the Duffey Lake Road from Pemberton to Lillooet, then down the Fraser Canyon to Vancouver.

Groceries, gasoline and other materials have been delivered to the three towns after trucks came the Fraser Canyon-Duffey Lake route, a trip that takes seven-nine hours.

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