West Kelowna  

Westside commuter hell

Westside commuters are fed up. But are they right?

There have been no shortage of complaints about long lines and morning bottlenecks getting into Kelowna.

Motorists say the commuter hell is starting as early as 7:30 a.m. most weekday mornings, with traffic backed up as far as Ross Road.

Commutes that took as little as 15 or 20 minutes are now closer to an hour.

Is it the normal summertime traffic or something else?

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which monitors traffic flows along Highway 97, it's nothing more than normal summertime volumes.

"At this time of year, traffic volumes start to increase as we transition into summer and more people are travelling. The congestion around the William R Bennett Bridge is caused by these higher traffic volumes, with Friday being the busiest day of the week," the ministry said in an email to Castanet.

"On weekday mornings, traffic at the bridge now generally clears between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. The ministry monitors the traffic flow at the bridge approaches, but the congestion we are seeing is typical for this time of year."

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater says he has heard the same complaints. In fact, he said he's been caught in the traffic jams himself.

Findlater said he's seen more Alberta plates on the road.

"It backs up from Harvey Avenue all the way up. Complicating it are the Campbell Road cheaters that are funneling three lanes into two at the bottom of Bridge Hill," he said. "But, from my observation, there's not much to be gained because it's backed up to the Westside Road interchange anyway."

Findlater said getting more people on the bus could help, but the Kelowna side of the highway may need looking at, too.

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