Kelowna’s Rails With Trails project is back on track.
After waiting five years to continue the work started with the first phase of the project from Gordon Drive to Spall Road in 2008, Kelowna is finally getting the provincial money it needs to help build phase two of the multi-use pathway.
A news conference is planned today in Kelowna with the three local MLAs, the area’s MP and Kelowna’s mayor to announce provincial money for the project from the Ministry of Transportation’s Bike B.C. fund. Money the city already knew it was getting from the federal government’s gas tax revenues is likely to also be re-announced qs part of the funding.
In its 2013 budget, the city set aside $1.5 million for the work in anticipation of the federal money.
While city representatives would not discuss details of today’s announcement prior to the event, it is expected that the total provincial-federal share will be around $3 million.
City officials said they were delighted the province is now on board.
The second phase of the Rails With Trails pathway will, like the first phase, be a paved, five-metre-wide, multi-use pathway that will run alongside the existing railroad tracks from Spall Road to Dilworth Drive. It will connect to the existing, thinner, gravel covered Mill Creek Linear Pathway that now runs from Dilworth Drive to just west of Highway 33 alongside Mill Creek.
Cyclists and pedestrians crossing Spall on the extended pathway will do so using an pedestrian-activated traffic signal, said Andrew Albiston, project manager for the city. While there is already a traffic light nearby at the intersection of Clement Avenue and Spall, there is also a light currently in place to control vehicular access across the railroad tracks where they cross Spall. One option could be to use that light as part of the pedestrian-activated signal. The signal and a small bridge over Mill Creek near Hardy Road and the city works yard will be part of the second phase work.
The city plans to have the second phase of the Rails With Trails pathway complete before the end of the year, one of several transportation projects it wants to finish in 2013. It also plans to build a $3 million pedestrian and cycle overpass over the railroad tracks and Highway 97 near the existing Highway 97 vehicle flyover to UBC Okanagan, a $4.5 million transit exchange in Rutland and a $2.5 transit exchange in front of Okanagan College on KLO Road. The pedestrian and cycle overpass would enable cyclists to get from Rutland to the UBCO safely.
The Rails with Trails project appeared to have stalled a few years ago when CN Rail said it would not allow the project in its rail right-of-way between Sexsmith Road and UBCO. The railroad said it was concerned about safety and liability.
The city would like to see the multi-use pathway eventually connect the university with downtown.
The city also plans to build a link from the Rails With Trails pathway south to the Mission Creek Greenway, alongside Dilworth Drive. It would run past Orchard Park Shopping Centre and the proposed site of the new Kelowna Farmers Market at the corner of Dilworth and Springfield Road and then travel along Mayer Road to the Greenway, said city’s director of regional services Ron Westlake.