Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Big Slide

Lillooet side of the Big Slide.
A few posts ago I was talking about the "Big Slide," less commonly known as "Texas Creek Slide." The slide is located about 15 kilometres south of Lillooet on Highway 12. This is one of the worst stretches of road in all of British Columbia, and has had very little change in over 100 years! With each newly elected government there's been a lot of promises but only minor fixes have been applied, and lots of money spent on "studies." These studies have told us what cannot be done, and have yet to come up with a viable solution. When do the studies stop and the construction begin? My lifetime, my children's lifetime, another 100 years? How many people will die on this appalling stretch of road in that time?
A few days ago, for the first time ever, I decided to stop and take some pictures. I felt like a tourist standing there snapping away with my camera; many times I've driven through and they are standing there taking pictures of the Fraser River. Yikes...not a good place to stop!
While driving through on the evening of January 9th, my SUV was hit. The following morning the slide was closed, not one, but two slides, side by side, had come down. Over a five day period, while the slide was closed, Interior Roads removed over 3500 cubic metres of material...let me put that into perspective; here is a picture of one cubic metre of concrete, times that by thirty-five HUNDRED! A typical gravel truck holds 9 cubic metres, so just under 400 truck loads was hauled away. Now I could have very well been under that amount of rock with my son or blasted over the side to our certain death.......
I take my chances every single time I drive through, even just going to the grocery store. There are a couple of alternative routes I could drive around, the closest; Fountain Valley Road, adds approximately 40 minutes (60 minutes total) to my trip into town (one way) as well as the beginning of this road, for approximately 3 kilometres, is so flippin' narrow two vehicles cannot pass, and during this time of year I have had my doors sealed shut with mud from the road. There is also an Indian Reserve on the far end of the road and they do not take kindly to the increased traffic. The second route; Lytton/Cache Creek, is about 2.5 hours one way, need I say more?
The picture below was not taken by me, it is a picture of the slide the day it was closed (January 10), yes there really is a road under all that gravel and rock!

Nasty picture of the "Big Slide"...one of the bad days. (Time is incorrect, it should be AM)
(Picture above not taken by me, all the pictures below were.)

The exact area 16 days later

The day I stopped and took pictures was just a typical day; small rocks on the road, and large and small crashing down as I was standing there. Something we put up with daily around this time of year. Some days I drive through and the rocks are massive...other days not so bad. The scariest is when I can see the rocks bouncing on the road in front of me, I think "do I speed up?" or "slow down?" Nope, I just hope to time it right and pray they all miss me. I have had to turn around and simply go home, whatever I'm going to town for can wait...no matter how important.
The School district does not want their buses and drivers from Lillooet to drive through on a daily basis although school buses full of children do occasionally travel through on field trips. This is the reason my daughter attends school in Lytton, a town farther away in the opposite direction, yet the School district will pay me to drive her through twice a day (which means I would have to drive through four times a day) to the other side where a bus sits and waits. I refuse to do it, especially with my 3 year old in the car...I can't believe the school would even consider I would! I am thankful and very grateful the district extended the Lytton bus route to our driveway.
There is a town meeting planned February 26 4:00 PM at the Rec Centre where we would like some answers to questions...questions that have been asked over and over, but have been mainly unanswered or ignored...or in typical political fashion "danced around." Last year a 62 page, 1,680 signature petition was sent to various ministers and government officials...yet, once again, nothing. I plan on attending this upcoming meeting, if you have ever driven on this road, heard about it, or have a story to tell about it...please leave a comment, I plan on taking them to the meeting.

Click on any picture for a larger image.
This is as far as I would walk in because the rocks were constantly coming down as I was standing there and I feared for my safety. I watched a few of them hit the road and literally bounce over the guardrail, and you can see from the picture this happens often. Note the condition of the guardrail...it's less than a year old!
The chain link fence was put up a few years ago...the placement of the fence is one of the least active areas of the slide.
The short time I was there the highways gravel truck (seen on the corner) passed through more than once, and this is great for keeping the road clear, but does nothing for the rocks that are continually falling, hitting everything from small cars to large trucks.

I shudder to think how the spouses of the drivers feel each time they go off to work. I want to send a big thank you to all you guys who maintain the road with the limited resources you have!

Yes the view is spectacular...but the drop is deadly!

Over the years the Slide seems to be getting worse and one local has been quoted as saying;
"The Big Slide is talking to us...and it's time we listened."
Your opinion is important! If you can't make the meeting on February 26 4:00 PM at the Rec Centre I can take your opinion with me. At any moment the Big Slide can come down, please remember this the next time you or one of your family members drives through. Please post a comment.

Update: Check out Dallas' car and see what happened to her windshield! Click here.


Anonymous said...

These are spectacular pictures and it shows just how dangerous that stretch of road is. I go around the long way when I come to visit because I just don't feel safe coming through the slide.

Anonymous said...

I have been dinged a couple of few times driving through the Big Slide. It's not very relaxing driving it when it is just warming up or when raining, because you can see all the rocks coming down off the mountian bouncing on the pavement, and you're just praying let me make it through lord, while holding up your hand covering your head.

Violet N. said...

Oh my! When we drove through Lillooet in the summer of 2005, even the main road seemed daunting to me, bordered as it was with ravines and steep valleys. I had never seen that part of BC before and it is truly majestic. But the thought of driving the roads you do, and with rocks constantly falling, gives me chills. I sure don't blame you for sending your child to school in Lytton.

Val said...

Great photos of the slide and river.. beautiful area you live in. I too have chickens, but we have yet to clean the coop out. Luck you that you didn't have to do it yourself!!!
Val ~ also a freecycle moderator.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog site and it is really wonderful. I live in Virginia and have just started to do the loom knitting. The pictures are beautiful, but almost scary. I had my husband look at them as he was walking by. I loved reading your writings. You also seem to be a very gifted person. Take care and I look forward to reading more. Kathryn

Anonymous said...

I have had an ongoing issue with the big slide for more than forty years. FEAR. When I was younger my mother driving us through the slide and knowing that she was terrified she might drive to close to the edge or; God forbid meet a car while driving through. Being very superstitious she would say “cross your fingers kids”. Then my first trip driving it, glad now I was just young and dumb enough to think I was smart enough to drive anywhere. It frightens me more now thinking of my grandchildren driving it. I drove my children through the slide for many trips when it was just by luck and a prayer that we survived. Many times rocks hitting the car or having to move rocks off the roadway just to make it home. My husband at that time was working for the Highways Department and many times I would be afraid for us that he wouldn’t make it home safe. There was always talk even then that something would be done to fix “The Big Slide” and year after year nothing was done. The Lillooet Highways crew always did their best and at risk to their own lives at times I am sure, and still do. We owe them a big thanks for that. Now some forty years later it is time to hear the people and do something to improve this roadway. I fear now for my daughter and her family that drive through there almost every day. I also have family and friends from Lillooet who have to use the road all too often.
I am sure there are a lot of us who fear for our families that have to drive this section of the roadway “The Big Slide” more now than ever. We can and do build big highways for speed and comfort these days, surely something can be done to make this roadway safe. The town of Lillooet has been waiting too long. Forty some years later I still have this ongoing issue with “The Big Slide”. FEAR. I think we have the right to be able to drive this without fear for our safety and the safety of our families. Anonymous

HalfAsstic.com said...

Good grief! That is spooky! Take care up there!