WATCH: It happened again. This morning, commuters were stuck on the Malahat for several hours at a standstill with the highway closed in both directions. This time the closure was not driver error but a rock slide that was dangerous and could have been deadly. Luisa Alvarez reports.
Steve Lambrick may consider buying himself a lottery ticket
“I’m lucky, really lucky,” said Lambrick.
He’s a bit shaken up but is not injured. His truck endured most of the impact after a boulder hurled about 60 meters down a steep hill hitting his moving vehicle.
And he says it could have been much worse.
“It hit the meridian and then it shot straight across, so thank god there was no traffic going southbound or it would have shot straight across head level,” said Lambrick.
It happened just after 8 a.m. Monday, closing the Malahat in both directions and leaving commuters once again stranded for hours.
But mostly those who chose to wait out in gridlock were surprisingly understanding.
“If they have to close the highway for my safety, fill your boots. I’d rather wait here a day then go through and get hit by a rock,” said one commuter to CHEK News.
A geotechnical engineer was sent to asses the area before it could be determined if it was safe to re-open the highway.
The closure lasted about three hours and part of the delay was just getting up the steep slope.
“It was quite rough, quite high up on the hill, so we just had to make sure there was nothing else of anything that could cause a problem,” said Manager with Mainroad South Island Stuart Eaton.
The Ministry of Transportation says regular highway checks do take place to asses rock fall dangers and say netting and mesh was in place. They’re calling Monday’s incident an isolated one.
“We’ve had a lot of rain in the last few days and when we do have rains, when it’s been dry for a while, It has the potential to dislodge some rock material which is what they determined to have happened here,” said deputy director of highways for the South Coast region, Janelle Staite.
But commuters are absolutely clear on what they think has to happen next: alternate routes. To that, the ministry says they’re working on it.
“We are looking at alternatives on the Malahat. We are still working on the scope of the study and hope to have more information coming this fall,” said Staite.