Load restrictions have been adjusted at the Ten Mile Slide site on Highway 99 north of Lillooet, which is is very good economic news for the region. The adjustment will allow commercial vehicles and tour buses that are 27,000 kilograms gross vehicle weight or less to use the highway, which is a primary connector between Lillooet and Kamloops.
The previous 50 per cent legal axle weight restriction has been in effect since slides in the area in September 2017. The restriction has meant that tour buses that previously used Highway 99 from Whistler and Pemberton to Lillooet and then on to Highway 97—stopping in communities and sites along the way—found alternate routes.
“It’s fantastic news,” says Don Pearse, the CEO of Historic Hat Creek (HHC) on Highway 99 northwest of Cache Creek. “We’re very excited about it.”
Historic Hat Creek is just one of the sites that saw a dramatic decrease in tour bus traffic since the 50 per cent restriction was put in place. It had a major impact on the 2018 season, following the major hit the site suffered during the 2017 wildfire season, when it was closed for several weeks due to evacuation orders in the area and highway closures.
“I’ve already contacted a couple of the tour bus companies, and they’re very pleased. They’ve indicated that they’ll be re-routing [in 2019] back to the Whistler route along Highway 99. They do coffee and lunch stops [at HHC], as well as some touring [of the site] stops, and it will be wonderful to have them back.”
The announcement about the change in load restrictions comes after Phase 1 soil anchor installation at the site. Pearse notes that a caveat is that the change could be rescinded on short notice, should site conditions deteriorate or as seasonal load restrictions go into place when spring temperatures occur.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that this won’t happen, and that we’ll be going full force all summer,” says Pearse. “The site will be monitored for further movement.”
The area of the 10 Mile Slide has experienced ongoing slide activity for several decades, severely affecting the Xaxli’p community, local businesses, the trucking and tourism industries, and the general public. Recently, an agreement with the Xaxli’p was completed for construction of the stabilization measures within the reserve boundary. Work is expected to begin this summer and be completed in fall 2020.
Once completed, the project will result in a reliable, permanent, two-lane paved roadway, improving safety for people travelling along this section of Highway 99.
Pearse says that Historic Hat Creek will re-open for the season on May 1, and that the site is now accepting job applications and resumes. “We have many positions available, from restaurant servers and historic interpreters to gift shop employees.”
Anyone interested in a position at Historic Hat Creek can drop off their resume at the site, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail it to Historic Hat Creek, P.O. Box 878, Cache Creek, B.C., V0K 1H0.