Highway 97 expansion in Kelowna will be done by the end of 2017

Improvements to Highway 97 are on time and on budget and expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

KELOWNA - The expansion of Highway 97 in Kelowna is on time and on budget, according to Ministry of Transportation officials.

Six rows of cars will be able to drive along Highway 97 between Highway 33 to Edwards Road by the end of this year.

So far, the $60 million project is 40 per cent completed, with 70 per cent of the underground work finished. Originally the budget for the project was $50 million, however, an additional $10 million was spent on property aquisition and archeological findings, senior project manager Rampaul Dulay says. 

The project, which has been ongoing since April 2016, is expanding the 4.5 kilometres of four lane highway to six lanes. The project cuts through four major intersections.

The biggest challenge for project contractor Emile Anderson Construction has been working at night.

“This is the main artery in Kelowna, it just didn’t make sense for us to work during the day,” Emile Anderson president Mike Jacobs says.

Jacobs says about 90 per cent of the work is done at night, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. He says one of the safety challenges has been working while people are drinking and driving.

“No one has been hurt, but there have been a few incidents where we’ve had to call the police because someone driving through the construction zone has been under the influence.”

In addition to widening the road, a double left-hand turn lane is going in at the intersection at Sexsmith and Highway 97. A signaled light will also be installed at what is currently Totom Avenue, a road that will eventually lead to the John Hindle Drive and the UBC Okanagan campus.

The underground work on the highway should be completed in three months.

Project managers are working closely with First Nations as a number of artifacts have been found over the course of the road construction.

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