While continuing with its two-year study of the entire Highway 97 corridor through the Central Okanagan, the province is zeroing in on two Westside intersections that are ranked among the worst in the province for accidents.
The intersections at Highway 97 and Westlake and Boucherie Roads are currently ranked as the worst and second worst respectively west of the lake and the 20th and 24th worst respectively in the province, according Murray Tekano of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
At an open house in West Kelowna Wednesday evening to unveil proposals for underpasses at both intersections, Tekano said the Highway 97 corridor study has already identified both intersections as priorities for improvement.
The province is proposing an underpass under the existing intersection at Boucherie Road and the highway, anchored by roundabouts at both ends of the new road on the north-west and south-east sides of the Highway 97. The existing traffic lights would be removed on the highway where the intersection is today and the highway would become a through road. Off-ramp roads would be built to take traffic off the highway on both sides. The north-west roundabout would be at the intersection with Horizon Drive and the south-east roundabout would be at the intersection with Boucherie Road and Sneena Road.
To the west, at Westlake Road, an underpass is proposed east of the existing intersection via a new connecting road to be build running from the Hudson Road and Boucherie Road intersection under the highway to a roundabout at Steven’s Road on the north side of the Highway 97. The intersection at Westlake and the highway would remain but become a “right-in, right-out” option only for traffic turing onto, and off of, the highway. Traffic would not longer cross the highway at that point.
Tekano said both proposals—chosen after a number of other possible configurations were looked at and rejected for reasons such as cost, disturbance to the area, land use, foot print and connectivity—would likely cost around $40 million each, the same amount as the nearby Westside Road overpass built in 2013.
With approvals, land purchases and detailed design work yet to take place, Tekano said construction is likely still at least a few years away.
But he said with safety being the top priority, something has to be done at both intersections and that is why work is being looked at now.
He pointed to the Westside Road overpass as an example of how safety could be improved, saying it has helped reduce accidents there by 75 per cent since 2013.
In addition to gathering public input about the conceptual plans for both intersections at Wednesday’s open house in West Kelowna, and at another on the WFN reserve onThursday—both proposals include land currently belonging to the WFN—the ministry is accepting feedback until March 20.
To give feedback and learn more about the proposals for both intersections, you can go to the projects website: www.gov.bc.ca/okanaganvalleycorridorprojects and fill out a feedback form or email the ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.