Second crossing considered

Public engagement has been launched for planning of a second crossing of Okanagan Lake

  • May. 17, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Public engagement has been launched for planning of a second crossing of Okanagan Lake.

Okanagan residents can have their say starting Tuesday on existing conditions and performance of the Highway 97 corridor in the Okanagan,  including any traffic congestion concerns you may have.

This is the launch of the public engagement portion of the three-year transportation planning study for the Central Okanagan, which is exploring future mobility needs, including route options and potential timing for a future second crossing of Okanagan Lake.

“With a growing economy and population, we need to start planning for the future of the Okanagan today,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.

“That starts with hearing from the people who depend on these roads every day, and we look forward to hearing from residents on how best to meet transportation needs into the future.”

When the five-lane William R. Bennett Bridge opened to traffic in 2008, it was estimated the bridge would serve the region’s traffic needs for 25 years or more, based on extensive traffic analysis.

Traffic counts on the bridge confirm this to still be the case.

Even though a second crossing is more than two decades away, it’s important to start the planning process now, as the Okanagan region predicts continued population growth.

The population of the Central Okanagan is currently approximately 187,000, with the vast majority located in Kelowna (65 per cent) and West Kelowna (17 per cent).

By 2034, the Central Okanagan population is expected to grow to nearly 255,000 people, an increase of more than 36 per cent in 20 years.

“Our infrastructure needs to keep pace with the growing population and traffic levels, and that’s why we are launching the planning and public engagement process now,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone. “This portion of the study is gathering a snapshot of the needs and experiences of all travellers on the corridor, including local drivers, truck drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We encourage interested citizens to join the conversation.”

To participate in this phase of public consultation there is an open house Tuesday – 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Ramada Kelowna Hotel and Conference Centre, 2170 Harvey Ave.

 

A new website will be launched on Tuesday where interested  citizens can submit feedback or take part in the online discussion.