Traffic came to a halt on Highway 97 on Monday afternoon as a result of an accident north of Summerland.
The accident, involving a lumber truck and a car, did not result in any critical injuries, but it illustrates once more some ongoing concerns about the highway.
The area where Monday’s accident occurred is one which has been the site of other similar accidents in the past.
Each time a truck tips in this area, it stops or at the very least slows down traffic.
While Monday’s accident was significant, it could have been much worse.
If the load of lumber on the truck had spilled into the road instead of primarily over the embankment, it would have resulted in a lengthy clean-up and a much longer delay for the motorists.
As it was, the delay was noticeable. Traffic was backed up for several kilometres in both directions and when the road was finally reopened, it was alternating single-lane traffic until 11:35 p.m.
Highway 97 serves as the main arterial road in the Okanagan Valley. In many places, it is the only direct way to get from one community to the next.
If the highway is blocked, drivers must wait or take a lengthy detour far out of the way.
Several years ago, the highway was widened to four lanes, bringing some much-needed relief to the growing problem of traffic congestion.
Traffic now flows much more smoothly than in the past and the road is also safer than it was, although there are still some hazard areas.
As a long-term plan, it is time to start looking at whether an alternate route is needed to connect Okanagan communities, in case a large-scale accident in the future brings traffic to a halt on Highway 97.