May 28, 2013 - 6:16 AM
Those who live and work in Kelowna's downtown core will soon be able to enjoy the streets free of truck traffic. But residents along Gordon Drive can expect just the opposite.
Industrial traffic currently travelling to and from the city's north end will be re-routed along Gordon Drive from Highway 97 to Clement Avenue with the closure of the Ellis Street truck route.
In the effort to keep Kelowna's cultural district as desirable and accessible as possible, city councillors voted unanimously today to close the downtown truck route for good. Coun. Andre Blanleil says it's a necessary step to redevelop the downtown core and accommodate a growing work force in the area.
"Obviously with the new Interior Health building and 1,000 new jobs down there, our number one priority is to close Ellis as a truck street," he says."To have trucks going down that road didn't make any sense."
Two new highrises for the Monaco project and new parkades on Ellis Street are also expected to add to the traffic.
Not everyone will be pleased with the decision to channel more trucks through Gordon Drive. Of the 1,600 area residents notified 50 opposed the closure, citing concerns about the added noise, speed and idling of heavy trucks as well as parking conflicts on Gordon Drive.
But Blanleil says the road has been a designated truck route for 50 years and can handle the extra volume.
"There will be upgrades to Gordon Drive, making left-turn lanes and sidewalks," he says. This will include an advance left-turn light where Gordon intersects with Highway 97.
Since the city extended Clement Avenue from Spall Road, substantially less truck traffic passes through the city centre.
"Before the extension there were about 2,300 trucks a day going down Gordon," Blanleil says. Whereas when Ellis Street closed for construction on Bernard Avenue last fall, Gordon Drive saw an extra 800 trucks a day.
Kelowna's north end remains a critical hub for the city's industry. Heavy trucks make regular access to Kelowna Ready Mix Inc. on Ellis Street, and the Tolko Industries mill brings logging trucks over from the Westside. Other north end businesses include Sun Rype Products, OK Builders and Urban Distilleries.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013