Second bridge over Okanagan Lake not top highway priority for West Kelowna

Mayor Doug Findlater says the city would like to see realignment of the Westbank couplet back on the table.

Dumping the Highway 97 couplet through Westbank is back on West Kelowna council’s agenda.

Having dropped its lobbying effort with the provincial government after an earlier attempt failed to gain any traction with Victoria due to the estimated $40-million cost of realigning the road using just one side of the existing couplet, Mayor Doug Findlater said Monday not only is getting rid of the couplet back on agenda, it’s a high priority.

The main reason for its return is the province’s ongoing study of the Highway 97 corridor through the Central Okanagan.

According to Findlater, if everything is on the table, getting rid of the couplet should be there too. “We say put (getting rid of )the couplet back on the table,” said the West Kelowna mayor at the first of two Highway 97 Corridor study open houses Monday. “There seems to be resources available.”

The second open house was scheduled for Kelowna Tuesday afternoon.

The City of West Kelowna envisions a six-lane section of the highway on what is now Dobbin Road (the east-bound section of the couplet) and turning the westbound section (Main Street) into a city road.

The open houses were held to gather public input about what it would like to see done with the highway over the next 25 years as traffic volumes increase and congestion on the road grows.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation estimates the five-lane William R. Bennett Bridge—which opened in 2008 and is the only crossing of Okanagan Lake—will reach capacity by 2040, a few years later than originally predicted.

So it has embarked on a study of the entire highway corridor through the Central Okanagan, which includes trying to find a crossing point—as well as routes to and from—a second bridge over the lake.

Regional transportation manager for the ministry Murray Tekano said building on public input gathered at earlier study open houses, the sessions in West Kelowna and Kelowna would go a long way to finding some answers.

He said the ministry now has a baseline to use based on drivers’ current experiences on the highway, so now solutions to growing congestion, especially on the approaches to the existing bridge, need to be found.

Studies have shown that only a small amount of traffic using the bridge is through traffic, with 68 per cent traveling between Kelowna and West Kelowna, the WFN reserves and Peachland.

That could influence how a second crossing is built—to accommodate mainly interurban traffic and where it is build, said Tekano.

For years, the City of Kelowna has been pushing for a new bridge  linking Popular Point with land near the old ferry dock on the Westside. A crossing could use the improved Clement Avenue—once known as the Central Okanagan Bypass and the North End Connector—as the Kelowna-side access route.

But that crossing point has not been selected as of yet, said Tekano.

He said part of what he and other ministry officials are hoping to hear from the public is where they think the best location for a second crossing would be.

Meanwhile, work will need to be done on the highway at other points as intersections start to become busier, particularly on the Westside at Boucherie Road and at Westlake Road.

As the ministry heads into the second phase of the three-year, $2-million study this winter—a stage dubbed “option review”—Tekano said it’s hoped some short and long-term solutions can be found.

While he would not commit to realigning the couplet through Westbank, he did say that is one area where heavier traffic congestion is likely to be seen going forward.

 

Kelowna Capital News

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
Injured mountain biker rescued in West Kelowna

The mountain biker reportedly has a hip injury about 1 km up the Smith Creek Road trail

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Gord with a mom and her young son outside Pathways which was defunded on May 31. (Facebook)
Gord Portman with a mom and her child outside of Pathways. The sign says it all about the difference Pathways has made in people’s lives. They were defunded by Interior Health on May 31.
Penticton man takes the plunge for the recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

Most Read