Once again, the prolonged blockage of Highway 97 between Penticton and West Kelowna highlights the need for permanent alternate routes in the Okanagan. Routes that are similar in the time and distance travelled on Highway 97.
Population in the Okanagan is growing rapidly and will probably continue to do so. We already have traffic congestion and choke points such as the W.A.C. Bennett Bridge. Right now, a good case can be made for another crossing.
Another example: Naramata housing development and tourism has overloaded the only road in and out. A serious wildfire could trap hundreds.
How did we get into this mess? Where were the visionaries who could foresee this growth and had the political clout to act in preparation?
We need another W.A.C. Bennett and “Flying Phil” Gaglardi – men who made new highways happen. They were “big thinkers“ who left a great legacy.
Why can’t we straighten out a few hairpin curves and pave the Summerland-Princeton road or develop the old Garnet Valley Brigade Trail into a paved alternate road?
Or, really think big and develop an upper levels highway across Naramata and Chute Lake into South Kelowna? That idea would shorten the travel time to South Kelowna to about 20 minutes and take considerable pressure off the bridge.
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