The long-awaited widening of Highway 97 at the north end of the city may finally be ready to get going.
The province announced Thursday it has awarded a $36-million contract yo Emil Anderson Construction Inc. for the of six-laning on Highway 97 through Kelowna, increasing capacity and making travel safer along the busy traffic corridor.
"Kelowna and the surrounding communities continue to grow in population, which is why it's vital to invest in transportation infrastructure to meet increasing demand," said Premier Christy Clark, who is also the MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
"With this announcement, the project is taking a major step toward completion."
Transportation minister Todd Stone said the design team has been working for the past two-and-a-half years to produce a design that meets the needs of the community.
"And we thank the community for its patience while this important work was being done," he added.
The expansion and upgrade of over four kilometres of Highway 97 from Highway 33 to Edwards Road will improve safety and efficiency for all users of the highway and better connect Kelowna's downtown core with surrounding areas, said the ministry.
Initial construction on this $60-million project began last year with a realignment of Finns Road, which was completed in December.
"The modifications along with other adjustments to the design were necessary to ensure these improvements best meet the needs of the community," said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. "We appreciate everyone's feedback - particularly the City of Kelowna - regarding the widening of this section of highway. These improvements will increase capacity and make travel safer."
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the upgrades to Highway 97 will benefit all residents of the area. From students heading to and from UBCO, transit users, cyclists and residents of Quail Ridge, Rutland, Glenmore, Ellison and Lake Country, the improvements will provide much needed capacity and improve traffic flow.
Mayor Colin Basran said the city was particularly pleased to see the project move ahead.
"As the fastest growing region in Canada for the past two years, we're very pleased to see the province invest in this transportation infrastructure improvement," said Basran.
This $60-million total cost of the project is being funded by Victoria and Ottawa, with the province putting in $41.5 million and the federal government contributing $18 million through the its Building Canada Fund.
Construction is expected to start early this spring with completion in fall of 2017.