Plans for a second bridge over Okanagan Lake and a freeway alternative along Kelowna’s north end are unlikely after city planners described the project as “prohibitively expensive” in a report headed to council on Monday.
According to the report, the price tag to build a second bridge over the lake has jumped by more than $300 million and would likely exceed $1 billion.
“A freeway bypass of Kelowna and the Westside, including a second crossing of Okanagan Lake, was estimated to be roughly $700 million in 2006. It is likely that the full realization of the historical vision would be well in excess of $1 billion today,” states the report.
“The work undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation’s Central Okanagan Planning Study to date points strongly towards increasing the people-moving capacity of the existing corridor.”
While a second bridge may no longer be viable, the prospect of a Highway 33 extension isn’t completely dead in the water.
The highway extension was initially proposed in 2007 as an alternative to Highway 97, connecting UBCO on the east side of the city to a second bridge, however, according to the report that plan posed “significant challenges.”
One of those challenges was the fact that only 13 per cent of traffic on the William R. Bennett Bridge passes through the city without stopping, undermining the need for a full bypass and second bridge.
The revised plan now indicates it may be more realistic to build an arterial roadway connecting Clement Avenue to McCurdy Road instead of the high-speed freeway with interchanges that was initially envisioned in the first plan. Clement Avenue currently ends at Spall Road.
According to the new plan, the proposed road would run parallel to the Rail Trail, which was recently completed by the city. If the plan moves forward the city would have to relocate its bus facility.
“The scope of work includes a four-lane connection between Spall Road and Highway 33, with at-grade intersections at Spall, Dilworth, and Enterprise. The most recent cost estimate for these works is $57 million,” states the report.
Buying the land needed for the project’s second phase to extend Clement from Highway 33 to McCurdy would require another $1.1 million in land acquisition by the city. The revised project would cost significantly less than the initial proposal.
The entire plan will be given to city council on Monday, Oct. 28.