West Kelowna wants Highway 97 removed from town centre
By Adam Proskiw
The two one-way stretches of Highway 97 through Westbank Town Centre could be combined sometime in the future now that council has directed staff to ask the province for a study.
Image Credit: Global Okanagan (with permission)
January 29, 2016 - 4:30 PM
WEST KELOWNA – The City of West Kelowna is once again taking a look at what it would take to fix the complicated section of Highway 97 known as the ‘couplet.’
In 2013 the Ministry of Transportation conducted a study on how much it would cost to combine the provincially-owned Main Street in West Kelowna with Dobbin Road.
When the figure for the study came back at over $40 million, the then-District of West Kelowna decided it was too expensive and the money would be better spent elsewhere.
Now that West Kelowna has become an official city, however, council have once again started looking at the problem, but in a new way.
“West Kelowna council is asking that the Ministry of Transportation remove Highway 97 as we know it and relocate it to the north,” mayor Doug Findlater says. “This would fit with the (Okanagan Lake) second crossing idea that’s under study and would fit with Peachland's proposal for a bypass.”
Aside from eventually integrating better with a second bridge in the future, a location north of Westbank would allow the city to spruce up an unsightly part of town.
The idea is not without precedent either, Findlater says. Bernard Avenue in Kelowna was once part of the highway, so was Beach Avenue in Peachland. There are obstacles of course, and the project is likely still years from starting, but the mayor believes the time has come to at least look into it.
“That’s an area that is not vibrant and it’s hard to do business,” he says. “We hear from business owners who have a very hard time doing business on Main Street with highway traffic roaring past the windows and buildings shaking. A second corridor could cost somewhat more… this is something we have to find out.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016