Major work is expected along what some residents have classified as B.C.’s worst road.
The provincial government announced Friday that it’s proceeding with $45 million in upgrades along Westside Road over five years.
“The Westside Road improvement committee has been working on this since 2003,” said Jim Edgson, the North Westside Road electoral area director, who has been active with the residents’ committee.
“With $10 million already been spent, this additional $45 million is certainly welcome.”
Among the concerns about Westside Road are it’s narrow, windy and vehicles can plunge down the steep bank into Okanagan Lake.
“For too many years now Westside Road has been on the BCAA wors roads list and our government is going to fix that,” said Premier Christy Clark and Westside-Kelowna MLA, during Friday’s press conference.
“We made a commitment to improve safety and reliability on Westside Road, and we’re delivering.”
Not all of the $45 million is earmarked yet, but $10 million involves two new construction projects.
Emil Anderson Construction, of Kelowna, has been awarded the contract for improvements from Waterfront Farm to Blue Grouse.
This 800-metre section of Westside Road will be widened to have 3.6 metre- wide lanes with paved shoulders, roadside barrier and rockfall protection measures. Construction began in late September and will be completed in fall 2015.
A second project at the north end of Westside Road will see an 8.7-kilometre section resurfaced between the Highway 97 junction and Skookum Mine Road, about 10 kilometres northwest of Vernon.
Okanagan Aggregates, of Armstrong, won the contract and is scheduled to start work in early October and be finished by the end of the month.
“Anything that improves Westside Road is a positive step,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director, whose jurisdiction goes partially down the west side of Okanagan Lake.
“It will make it a lot easier to travel.”
Fleming also believes improved conditions on Westside Road could increase use and ease some of the pressure on Highway 97 through Vernon and other valley communities.
Construction and paving may require intermittent delays for traffic as well as scheduled closures of Westside Road for short periods of the day.
While at the press conference in West Kelowna Friday, Fleming lobbied for projects in his area, including safety improvements at Highway 97 at Stickle Road and the highway and Bernie Road.
“There were a lot of Ministry of Transportation officials there, as well as cabinet ministers and the premier,” said Fleming.
“I want to keep reminding them that they haven’t covered all of the bases yet.”