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Transit hub: Secure, functional

Security and functionality are the key features to the new Queensway Transit Hub set for construction later this summer.

The $5.4M transit upgrade will encompass two blocks along Queensway from Ellis to Water streets.

The city is picking up just $700,000 of the project cost, the federal government less than $100,000 with BC Transit paying for the rest.

The current Queensway transit loop was constructed about 15 years ago and at an open house to explain the project to the public, Regional Services Director, Ron Westlake, says its time to make improvements to the exchange.

"The comfort of the people on the island that are transfering...we're going to provide a shelter across the island so people have continuous shade through the summer and protection from snow, ice and rain," says Westlake.

"This particular shelter gave us the opportunity to look at it as a significant feature. We have outfitted the entire under side of the shelter with glue-laminated beams and wood panelling which will be featured with under lighting."

Westlake says there will be more lighting outside the shelter to provide more security.

"We are paying particular attention to security everywhere downtown. We have to be conscious of that so we have designed it with sight lines so we can see through things," says Westlake.

"That's why there are no walls. It's all open so people can transfer between the buses but we can also see across the whole island."

One of the big complaints of the current design was lack of protection from the wind. Westlake says a wind barrier will be built as part of the the shelter.

A security office will also be constructed across from the transit hub next to the Kelowna Museum.

The building will allow security personnel to see the entire length of the transit hub all the way to Water Street.

"In the case of this exchange there is an element that has to be watched out for - vandalism and that sort of thing. We have had security there for a number of years and we think we have a handle on it and have made it a lot safer..

We need to make the appearance very attractive and to make people comfortable and not relying purely on the security guards."

That particular building is not expected to be completed until after the transit hub itself is finished.

Westlake says the second part of the project involves a re-design of Queensway between Pandosy and Water streets.

"We are really excited about this block because we are reconfiguring the whole block. We are putting in two RapidBus stations on the north side that carries into the lawn at City Hall and moving all of the parking to the other side of the street," says Westlake.

"The other key part for this block is we are building a roundabout at the intersection of Queensway and Water Street. That is going to slow down the traffic that is going down Water Street as well as allow these buses and other vehicles to easily access out onto Water Street safer."

Westlake says a traffic light was also contemplated at that intersection but was dismissed partly because of its close proximity to the light at Water and Bernard.

Several hundred people stopped by to look at the plans during Thursday's open house.

Westlake says a majority of those seemed supportive of the new design and especially the shelter feature on the exchange island and the open concept it provides.

Construction is expected to begin in June, once the Bernard Avenue project is finished, with completion by the Labour Day long weekend.

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