Giant boulder crashes onto Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap

The car-sized boulder came to a rest in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap.

This boulder came to a rest on the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap mid-morning on April 18, 2018. Photo: BC Ministry of Transportation

The sight of a giant car-crushing boulder in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap is sure to renew calls for safety improvements to the hazardous stretch of the highway just west of Revelstoke.

The B.C. transportation ministry said the boulder came down mid-morning on Wednesday, April 18. Crews are cleaning up and assessing the issue Wednesday morning.

The location has been a cause for concern for Revelstoke residents for decades. Rocks and debris frequently rain down on the section of highway that runs for several hundred metres adjacent to Three Valley Lake. Drivers frequently spot rocks the size of baseballs or basketballs at the side of the highway, which is pock-marked with small craters where rocks have slammed into the asphalt over the years.

In late 2017, Revelstoke resident Shannon Smith was lucky to escape with minor injuries after her new vehicle was crushed by a torrent of debris. See that story here.

In response, the B.C. transportation ministry said it was exploring installing a rock-fall fence at the area. They timeline on the study is not known; ministry staff said the design of the fence would be challenging because the section of highway also has avalanche paths during the winter.

In the past two years, the transportation ministry has installed remote avalanche control stations in the mountains above the section. The new control system utilizes pre-loaded explosives that are detonated to set off controlled avalanches. The new system was hailed as a step forward. Previously, much of the explosive avalanche control was done using helicopters. The heli-based system was deemed less than ideal due to constraints on flying time; helicopters can’t fly in the dark or during poor weather conditions. This meant some avalanche control had to be done during daytime, which led to traffic delays. The new remote system allows for better scheduling of avalanche control.

Today’s rock fall will likely lead to renewed calls for improvements at the section of the highway.

In a social media post yesterday, the City of Revelstoke said that Mayor Mark McKee joined MLA Doug Clovechok in a meeting with B.C. transportation minister Claire Trevena to discuss highway issues, including Three Valley Gap.