Vancouver faces Olympian hurdle as rock slide cuts off vital corridor

Thursday, July 31, 2008

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

With reports from Justine Hunter in Victoria, Sunny Dhillon in Lions Bay and Cathryn Atkinson in Squamish

VANCOUVER — It almost cost Vancouver the 2010 Olympic Games five years ago.

Now, the narrow and precarious cliff-side Sea to Sky Highway is coming back to haunt the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee a year and a half before the big event.

Thousands of cubic metres of jagged boulders laid strewn 10 metres high, blocking the vital artery linking Vancouver and Whistler, the Games’ two primary venue cities. The rock slide Tuesday night near Porteau Bluffs south of Squamish is the highway’s biggest in a dozen years. It is expected to shut down the road for five days and has conjured disastrous visions of stranded athletes and tourists during the 2010 Olympics. The cliffs above the highway are geologically prone to weak planes of rock.

Commuters, tourists and businesses are girding for a long wait.

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