Letter: Okanagan Lake crossing at McKinley would solve traffic problems

Extend the Coquihalla…beyond Bear Creek to a new bridge located north of the Traders Cove area over to McKinley Landing.

To the editor:

Re: McKinley area is the best location for second bridge across Okanagan Lake.

The B.C. provincial government has hired a company to study and recommend a location for a second crossing. When the public consultation starts on the new bridge and bypass, Okanagan residents should aim for the best location for the future needs of all communities involved.

Forget moving Highway 97 to the north end of Kelowna with a bridge in the old ferry landing area because this would move the traffic bottleneck over to the Westside.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater is correct in saying Highway 97 must bypass his community. He asks if a new road could bypass West Kelowna and link to the new bridge as far north as Bear Creek.

Yes, it is possible to extend the Coquihalla connector as a bypass beyond Bear Creek to a new bridge located north of the Traders Cove area over to McKinley Landing. Both the west and east shores here have solid bedrock which means a suspension bridge is possible.

In the 1930s my pioneering parents started a 160-acre homestead above McKinley Landing, so, over years I have seen every part of the area. The best bridge site on the east side is on the lakeshore of the old Paley farm which is below the north end of Clifton Road. From the Paley site the highway could angle northward and gradually upwards above McKinley Landing. It could then go eastwards towards the Glenmore Reservoir and then towards the dog park on Glenmore Road. From here, it could go past the city dump to Dry Valley Road and past Lakeview Cemetery, joining Highway 97 near Duck Lake.

This nonstop bypass of Kelowna and West Kelowna would benefit the people of the Okanagan and travelers across B.C. Over time the savings to the traveling public in gasoline, time, stress and safety, etc., would be huge and make the cost of the bridge and bypass a bargain.

Also, the lake crossing at McKinley could facilitate a much needed Highway 33 bypass of downtown Kelowna. A ring road could start in the Black Mountain area where the hydro power line intersects Highway 33. This new highway bypass could continue northward along the power line to the Scotty Creek area and then work its way down to the old Vernon Road and along to the end of the airport at Highway 97. It then joins the highway junction to the new McKinley freeway.

There have been too many mega millions wasted here on Band-Aid bridges and on the stop-and-go bottleneck of Highway 97. So, why waste more millions on an unsightly, noisy, polluting, Highway 97 running through Kelowna’s north end with another bridge that becomes obsolete in 10 to 15 years? Enough is enough; it is time we started planning the McKinley Bridge and bypass that would best serve the needs of the entire Okanagan Valley and B.C. for 100 years and beyond.

Robert Cichocki, Kelowna