August 08, 2016 - 4:30 PM
OKANAGAN - Look to the fall for the “key deliverables” in the Okanagan Lake second crossing project — possible bypass routes, access measures and the location of a bridge itself should it ever be built.
Project manager Ross Coates told Kelowna council his staff are still considering the role of Highway 97, what characteristics it should have and if it moves, what happens to the existing highway.
“In the fall, we expect to share possible second crossing locations along with a strategy of how to get there in the short, medium and long term,” Coates said.
Advanced traffic counting techniques have revealed 96 per cent of automobile trips start or end in the Central Okanagan with just four per cent passing through, he said.
While traffic volume is highest on the Bennett Bridge, Coates said the worst traffic congestion is in the urban areas on either side of the bridge which are not designed to handle the same traffic volume.
Coates said a possible route bypassing West Kelowna and Peachland are on the table, as are “access measures” which means restricting entry points to the highway to help maintain traffic flow or creating a frontage road to pull local traffic off the highway.
Support for access measures, which can be rolled out long before a bridge is built, was surprisingly high during an informal questionaire at the last second crossing open house.
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said the felt the project might tilt too heavily toward cars in an area where transit use is well below the provincial average.
“Is this project automobile driven?” he asked, pointing to the 25 year timeline expected before a bridge would be built.
Coates assured the mayor his team was looking at all aspects of transportation including transit when looking at the project’s scope.
“It is definitely multi-modal,” he added.
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