Slope deemed stable after falling rocks close Malahat for 3 hours

Two large boulders fell onto the Malahat near Tunnel Hill Monday morning, causing the highway to be shut down for three hours and prompting a safety assessment by the Ministry of Transportation.

A geotechnical engineer determined that the rest of the rocky slope is stable and there’s no risk of more rocks tumbling onto the highway.

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West Shore RCMP responded just after 8 a.m. after two rocks fell about 300 metres down a slope. They fell onto the southbound lanes, bounced over the concrete median into the northbound lanes and struck a vehicle, said Janelle Staite, the ministry’s regional director for the south coast region.

The rock caused minor damage to the vehicle and no one was injured.

The highway was closed in both directions and traffic was at a stand-still while Transportation Ministry officials assessed the slope to determine if any more rocks were in danger of falling. Engineers used a four-wheel drive and a drone to check the steep terrain for any other vulnerabilities.

“What our geotechnical engineer found was that based on the assessment, they didn’t see a risk of any additional rocks coming down which is the key thing they’re looking for,” Staite said.

The rocks came from an area 100 metres above the ministry’s right of way, Staite said. The ministry already has mesh covering the rock face on its right of way.

It’s unclear what caused the rocks to dislodge, she said, but it could be due to heavy rainfall in recent days.

The Malahat reopened about 11:40 a.m.

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