Last week, results from a British Columbia Automobile Association survey indicated something that some West Kelowna residents and tourists have been saying for years: Westside Road is the worst in the province.
Although Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart questions how scientific BCAA’s survey is, he said that Westside Road improvements have been his top priority since getting elected.
“I don’t dispute the issues that the residents on Westside Road have with road safety. I drive the road all the time. I’m not a resident out there, but I regularly drive out there and I do check things out,” said Stewart.
He said that to improve the road to the level that many Westside Road residents are hoping for, it would cost in excess of $100 million.
The MLA said that surveying has been done along the road and the worst areas identified match up with the areas of concern brought forward by the Westside Road Improvement Committee.
According to Stewart, just under $1 million has already been spent on road widening and pullouts.
“A lot of tourists that come to the Okanagan visit Bear Creek Provincial Park or Fintry Provincial Park. Those people don’t drive that road every day and (often) have trailers or motor homes.
“In order for them to not have traffic backed up and people taking unsafe chances, we’ve put in mandatory safety pullouts so that they pull over.”
And more improvements will be forthcoming this year.
“There’s another long section of about six kilometres that’s going to be rehabilitated this year. . .we’ll make the official announcement once the contracts are let.”
Along with the rehabilitation to a stretch of road, Stewart said that more safety pullouts and enhanced road safety signage will be put in place.
He said he drove Westside Road with Blair Lekstrom, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, a couple of months ago; therefore, the province is also aware of the lack of barricades in unsafe areas.
“The problem is that the magnitude of the repairs is going to be significant. In the near term, we need to look at more creative ways at creating roadside safety barricades and doing the widening in the absolute most dangerous spots.
“We are going to get some of the worst and most offending corners and grades and dangerous spots looked into and we’re going to come up with what I hope is a plan at some point time during this year.
“It’s not going to be the Cadillac version, it’ll probably be down the list from that. But it’s going to be something that I’m hopeful will be able to give people confidence that we are looking out for their road safety issues.”