B.C. trucking industry impacted by multi-day Okanagan highway closure

The B.C. Trucking Association says a multi-day highway closure in the Okanagan is having an impact on the bottom line and increased costs could be passed on to consumers.

President Dave Earle said the Highway 97 closure north of Summerland, prompted by a landslide on Saturday morning, is causing significant disruptions for the trucking industry.

The 201 Forest Service Road on the east side of Okanagan Lake is not available to larger vehicles so commercial trucks must detour via Highway 97C, Highway 5A and Highway 3A to Highway 3.

Earle said the lengthy highway detours add approximately six hours to a round trip between Kelowna and Penticton.

“It causes a lot of disruptions,” he said. “When you think about this north-south route, the workaround is moving out through the [Okanagan] Connector out to Merritt and then come around through Princeton and back up Highway 3. It represents a huge detour.”

Earle said transportation costs are on the rise.

“It’s going to cost more to move any given load and ultimately it’s you and I, the end consumer, who pay for that cost because it’s just going to take longer to get around,” he said.

He added that some trucking companies are redeploying assets and non-essential shipments are being delayed.

“They’re moving vehicles from one side of the slide to the other in an effort to serve customers in a given area,” Earle said, “and in some circumstances where it’s not time sensitive, customers are being told no, we are unable to move the load at this time because it is taking so much longer to move.”

He said most products you can purchase in the Okanagan arrive by truck.

“Everything you go to buy into the Okanagan Valley, it’s arriving on the back of a truck, so your day to day produce, your fresh goods, your time sensitive items, and those are all coming in.”

Earle added consumers could be on the hook for increased costs.

“Eventually it will trickle down,” he said. “I can’t point to it and say, ‘this why your bananas are five cents more a point,’ but certainly these extra costs will be born ultimately by the end consumer because there is no one else that can absorb them.”

The Ministry of Transportation said on Wednesday that a potentially dangerous crack was discovered on the rock face and crews were pulled off the site. There is no estimated time of re-opening.

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