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Remote system to cut avalanche delays

August 8, 2016 9:25 A.M.
Installing remote avalanche control tower in Europe. (Wyssen/YouTube)

A Swiss company has been hired by the province to automate avalanche control on Hwy. 1 near Revelstoke with the promise of shorter delays.

“In June of last year I committed to improving the safety and mobility on the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke as part of B.C. on the Move, our 10-year transportation plan,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “The first of these new avalanche mitigation systems will be in operation this winter and will lessen the duration of highway closures due to avalanches.”

The contract was awarded to Wyssen Avalanche Control, Inc., in the amount of $2.1 million.

Avalanche mitigation to this point involves deploying explosives from helicopters to initiate avalanches while the highway is closed. Control can only be done during daylight hours and when weather conditions are favourable, leading to extended overnight closures.

The new Remote Avalanche Control Systems (RACS) will be installed near Three Valley Gap outside of Revelstoke, allowing for avalanche control on a 24-hour basis throughout the winter. The systems allow operators to fire the charges remotely so that avalanche control can be completed at any time, under any weather condition.

Eight separate RACS will be installed at key locations along the south side of Three Valley Lake. Crews expect to install three systems this fall, with the remainder to be installed next year once additional site investigations are complete.

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