Build it, and you will drive

Are you bothered by the seemingly endless congestion on Kelowna roadways?

Get used to it.

A city paper on transportation challenges and opportunities suggests the only way to alleviate congestion is by using alternative modes of transportation, such as transit, biking and walking.

Currently, people in Kelowna own more vehicles per capita than any other city in Canada, collectively drive to the moon and back twice every weekday, and parking spots are used about 340,000 each day.

That has to change, according to transportation engineer Gordon Foy.

Foy addressed the issue of moving people around a city challenged by a lake on one side, mountains within the city core and an abundance of agricultural land.

The answer, he says, is not bigger, larger road networks.

"If we were able to expand our road network significantly, we would change our travel behaviours to respond to it," said Foy.

"If we build a lot of roads to build more capacity, we will attract more traffic, and that will make the very neighbourhoods that have the best chance of shifting travel to more sustainable modes, it will make them less pleasant places to do business and live in."

Then there's cost, which he says would be about $26 million per kilometre to go from four lanes to six on say, Gordon Drive or Springfield Road because both are immediately adjacent to homes and businesses.

Foy says there needs to be a shift away from a car-centric culture. This doesn't mean eliminating the vehicle but providing more choices.

"Giving people more convenient choices to get around is the only way to solve congestion.

"Ultimately, it's the impact of congestion that's important. If a network is congested and people have no other way to travel, it will feel the brunt of that congestion."

With a predicted population growth of about 38 per cent in the next 20 years, Foy says it would not be possible to just build 40 per cent more roads.

The city currently is expected to spend about $400 million on transportation related projects over the next 10 years. A little more than half is earmarked to either build new roads or operate the current network.

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