Plans for the Highway 97 of 2040 getting underway

"The need for additional highway capacity on Highway 97 and a second crossing is still at least two decades away..."

  • Nov. 26, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Do you want to have your say on traffic congestion issues and potential solutions in the Central Okanagan region? If so, now is your chance.

The B.C. government is about to hold the second round of open houses for the public to come and give feedback on Highway 97, and ideas around both short term and future transportation needs and solutions.

“With a growing population and thriving business and tourism sectors, the Central Okanagan plays a key part in B.C.’s strong, diverse economy,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.

“Input from the people who depend on the transportation network every day ensures our infrastructure continues to meet their needs, both today and for years to come.”

“We are committed to looking at immediate transportation solutions for the Central Okanagan, as well as looking at solutions for the future, as the population continues to grow,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “We are very interested in hearing the public’s views on the Highway 97 corridor and the surrounding roads, and we encourage everyone to join the conversation.”

The first phase of public engagement was launched in May 2015, with two open houses and the launch of the website. This next round of open houses will deliver population, land use and corridor conditions/performance forecasts, and will be asking people to give their feedback.

People in attendance will be asked about their views on the role of Highway 97, suggestions on how to address future congestion and preliminary opinions about where a second crossing of Okanagan Lake should be located. The ministry will be building on the input received in the first round of open houses, where people expressed that they believed congestion to be the most serious issue.

The ministry will consider input from this consultation along with input from local mayors and councilors, First Nations, environmental stakeholder groups, and other stakeholder groups. All of these engagement processes will help government as it works to develop the full picture of transportation needs and solutions, both for the short term and for the longer term.

The need for additional highway capacity on Highway 97 and a second crossing is still at least two decades away. The ministry is starting the planning process now, in order to be prepared for the population growth expected.

Right now, the Central Okanagan population is approximately 187,000. mTwenty years from now, the Central Okanagan population is expected to grow to nearly 255,000 people, an increase of more than 36 per cent.

Since 2001, the B.C. government has invested more than $400 million in upgrades to improve safety and mobility on the Highway 97 corridor in the Central Okanagan. Some examples of improvements are: the William R. Bennett Bridge, Highway 97 six-laning from Water Street to Highway 33, four-laning of Highway 97 from Winfield to Oyama, the Westside Road interchange, and the Campbell Road Interchange.

If members of the public would like to attend the open houses, here

is the information:

* Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Westbank Lions Community Centre, 2466 Main St., West Kelowna

* Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Ramada Kelowna Hotel and Conference Centre, 2170 Harvey Ave., Kelowna

Quick Facts:

* By 2040, the William R. Bennett Bridge will reach capacity in its current configuration. The approaches on the Kelowna side will reach capacity before then.

* By 2040, a trip along the full length of the corridor (between Peachland and Lake Country) will take almost 15 minutes longer in the AM peak hour and up to 24 minutes longer in the afternoon peak hour.

* By 2040, almost all signalized intersections within developed areas will have significant congestion and delay.

Kelowna Capital News