Second crossing 20 years out but planning now is essential, transportation ministry says
By John McDonald
Second crossing project director Murray Tekano with the Ministry of Transportation is pictured at an open house held in West Kelowna on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.
(JOHN MCDONALD / iNFOnews.ca)
May 21, 2015 - 2:34 PM
WEST KELOWNA - If you ask project director Murray Tekano, the current study about where to put a second Okanagan Lake crossing is not just a public relations exercise to be seen doing something.
Tekano says 20 years for planning a major infrastructure project such as the second bridge is standard for the industry and there’s lot of other aspects to the project that need to be in place well before any concrete is poured on the actual bridge.
“The idea is to come up with a route so communities can all plan around it,” says Tekano, who was on hand to answer media enquiries at the second crossing open house in West Kelowna on Wednesday, May 20. “We’re starting now at a point where community plans are evolving and we have lots of decisions to make both provincially and at the municipal level involving land use planning.”
Tekano stresses that the bridge itself, while central to the planning process, is only one aspect of the vision for the whole Highway 97 corridor between Peachland and Vernon.
“We talk a lot about other transportation modes in the valley, which are also part of the transportation system. We are asking how they might be beneficial to some of the problems we have,” Tekano says.
While previous traffic and bridge studies will be incorporated into the new plan, Tekano says much has changed in the Central Okanagan in the last ten years regarding why people are jumping in their cars and where they are going when they do.
“It’s important to understand what trip purposes are. For example, there’s information here that shows the majority of traffic on Highway 97 in West Kelowna stays in that area. Same with Kelowna,” he says. “It shows how different it is from ten years ago when we used to see the summertime as never-ending, high-traffic volumes. Summertime traffic doesn’t actually go up much in Kelowna anymore.”
Indeed, the data collected by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure last summer shows that 81 per cent of traffic coming into Kelowna from the north stays in the city, with just 19 per cent continuing on over the Bennett Bridge.
“It’s important for people to recognize we are really dealing with a local traffic congestion problem,” Tekano adds.
The ministry is seeking as much public feedback as it can get by May 31. You can also give your opinion on the dedicated second crossing website or email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at email@example.com or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015