Road work and bicycles

by

Castanet.net has posted a story on road widening along Hwy 97. Whether you choose to use the highway or not I believe cyclists should advocate for an alternate bike route with some off road bike / pedestrian lanes along the east – west corridor in Kelowna.

While the story says this construction is “much anticipated” I would suggest that safe access to OUC – UBCO has been “much longer anticipated”. Not to mention a completed Rails to Trails project.

Grant

Hwy 97 widening finally announced

by Wayne Moore – Story: 41572
Sep 4, 2008 / 4:00 pm

The much anticipated six laning of a four kilometre stretch of Highway 97 between Gordon Drive and Highway 33 will finally take place.

The project has been on the books for a number of months.

The announcement of the $14.4 million project was made by Kelowna-Lake Country MP, Ron Cannan, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA, Al Horning and Kelowna Mayor, Sharon Shepherd.

The city will provide $4.1 million, with senior levels of government kicking in the remaining $10.4 million.

Horning says public safety is the number one reason for widening project.

He says six of the 10 highest accident intersections in the Okanagan are along that stretch of highway.

“ICBC has always been looking at having things fixed up on this highway because of those accidents,” says Horning.

“The main thing is to move traffic too, and the extra lane, the bus lane and HOV (High Occupancy Vehicles) lane is going to make people take notice when they have to get in traffic with only one person in the car.”

Horning says it will be up to the city to determine whether the new lane will be dedicated to high occupancy vehicles and buses once it is complete.

The project is expected to start in the fall, with completion in the summer of 2009.

Cannan says the timing of the announcement is not due to the pending federal election announcement.

“We’ve been working on this for, like I said, a long time. The way we work as a federal government is we work with the local government, the regional transportation committee develops the strategies and the priorities and then sends it to the province,” says Cannan.

One concern for the project centered around the possible disruption of businesses along the busy Highway 97 commercial corridor.

Horning says that shouldn’t be an issue, because much of the work is expected to take place during evening hours.

“They are going to make every effort they can to make sure businesses are not impacted by this project.”

Shepherd says the new roadway will be designed with pedestrians in mind.

“The pedestrian component, even in front of the Parkinson Recreation Complex is not easy, so improving the sidewalks and lighting along this corridor will be very good for pedestrians walking and running,” says Shepherd.

She adds that cyclists have always been discouraged from utilizing Highway 97. Cycle paths are not planned as part of the widening.

“We are trying to look at alternative routes for cycling, that’s why we are looking at the Rails by Trails project, and we need funding in order to enhance that.”

This announcement comes just six weeks after senior governments unveiled plans to upgrade Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama. That project is expected to be complete by 2012.

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