The widening of Highway 97 at the north end of Kelowna is finally done.
The B.C Ministry of Transportation announced Monday the six-laning project between Highway 33 and Edwards Road is complete, making it easier for vehicles to travel through the area by both because of the road widening and the upgrading of several busy intersections along the stretch of highway.
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The $67-million project was cost-shared between the province, the federal government and the City of Kelowna, with $18 million from Ottawa through its Building Canada Fund and close to $1 million from the City of Kelowna. The city also expanded the bus, rapid transit and cycling networks in the area to reduce traffic congestion.
“The widening project and intersection upgrades have enhanced our transportation infrastructure for the long-term and will reduce congestion and improve safety in this vital corridor,” said Colin Basran, mayor of Kelowna. “We’re very pleased to see this project complete.”
The stretch of Highway 97 sees approximately 40,000 vehicles a day, and according to the ministry, Kelowna’s continued growth will mean that number will keep increasing, causing heavier traffic. The completion of this project is expected to help make travel times shorter.
The improvement work included expanding 4.5 kilometres of the highway to six lanes between Highway 33 and Edwards Road, an increase in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and intersection upgrades to Leathead, McCurdy, Findlay/Hollywood and Sexsmith roads. Crews also re-aligned Rutland Road with a new roundabout at Old Vernon Road for better traffic flow, along with other side-road improvements.
“These upgrades should make it easier and safer for people to move through Kelowna,” said Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “They also create a better connection from the downtown core to the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus and Kelowna Airport.”
Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr, speaking on behalf of François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities said the federal government recognizes how important investing in transportation networks is to economic growth and that’s why it invested in the widening of Highway 97.
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