The project to expand part of Highway 97 through Kelowna to six lanes is on time and on budget says the Ministry of Transportation.
And the 18-month construction project is slated to be complete before the end of the year.
Reporters were taken on a tour of the work on Wednesday—a 4.5 kilometre stretch between Highway 33 and Edwards Road—and senior project manager Rampaul Dulay said the work is now 40 per cent complete on the $60 million project.
Originally budgeted at $50 million, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the final price tag jumped by $10 million due to required additional property acquisition, the discovery of aboriginal archaeological artifacts and design changes.
A total of 65 land transactions were required for the project, including two expropriations.
The higher cost also reflects the fact that contractor Emil Anderson Construction has been doing the work at night, a move necessitated by the fact that the highway is the main traffic artery through the city, with between 50,000 to 65,000 vehicles passing through the area of the construction zone every day.
“It didn’t make sense for us to work during the day, said Mike Jacobs, CEO of Emil Anderson Construction.
He said the hardest part of the work has been to deal with the underground utilities along the length of the route, including water, sewer, electricity and a host of others. In addition, overhead powerlines along the route have now been buried underground. Dulay said 70 per cent of the underground utility work has now been completed.
While this year’s harsher than normal winter made for a late restart to work earlier this month, Jacobs said it will not stop his crews from finishing the project on time.
The project will see Rutland Road realigned close to where it currently intersects with Sexsmith Road. Once complete, Rutland Road will run to Old Vernon Road instead, and there will be a roundabout built at the intersection. The realignment was necessary because the road currently intersects with Sexsmith too close to the highway.
Other changes motorists will see—in addition to the six lanes and new landscaping alongside the road— will be new traffic lights at the intersection of Highway 97 and Lloyd/Findlay Roads and Totem Road will be closed to the highway. Left turn lanes will also be lengthened at the major intersections along the improvement route.