Traffic problems

At only 13 years old (opened in 2008), the William Bennett bridge linking West Kelowna and Kelowna has taken on the vehicular personality that you find in much larger centres like Vancouver or Seattle.

Huge congestion coming into Kelowna from the west, massive traffic backups when there are vehicle incidents in the bridge, speeding, and road rage incidents.

The eastbound bridge traffic (and the idiotic traffic lights at Kelowna’s west entrance) has become a bottleneck that was once concentrated during morning commutes, but occurs now throughout much of the morning and afternoon. Afternoon “rush hour” commutes going east are not much better, with traffic often backing up long before the first traffic light at Highway 97 and Boucherie Road.

Who, in their infinite wisdom, thought it was a good idea to only have two eastbound lanes when this bridge was constructed? It does’??t take a rocket scientist to realize that this was a bad idea.

What has happened to discussion and planning for a second crossing I wonder? It appears as though plans for a second crossing are either shelved or dead in the water.

The Kelowna and West Kelowna cities are growing at such an exponential rate that there needs to be some serious planning and action into what is guaranteed to occur in the future with vehicular gridlock. It’s already here (gridlock) at times and is a source of frustration for residents of this area.

Don’t just ask me, talk to residents of our fine cities and they will tell you the same thing. No one who is being honest would say we do not have a traffic problem in this area.

Sometimes it seems as though there is no thought to traffic issues. Sure, more bike lanes and multimodal roads are being built, and that is all well and good. But that has very little to no effect on the sheer volume of vehicles running through Kelowna on the Highway 97 corridor.

Has anyone heard of overpasses, a highway bypass, or anything like that being constructed? I didn’t think so.

Obviously the traffic congestion on the bridge and in the city won’t be an issue until the road network totally collapses under the strain of metropolitan overgrowth.

Trying to wish the problem away by building more bike lanes, walkways or the like won’t cut it. People won’t change their behaviours that much.

We love our vehicles and the area is growing too fast to see that this is going in only one direction. It isn’t good and and it won’t be pretty in the very near future.

Duane Arthur, W. Kelowna

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