Peachland urges upgrades on pair of Highway 97 intersections

Ministry lobbied on Hwy 97

Several Peachland intersections will be slated for upgrading under a Highway 97 transportation plan that was recently finalized.

Peachland council received a presentation Tuesday on the Central Okanagan Integrated Transportation Strategy.

The plan calls for a multi-million dollar improvement project at the Trepanier Bench Road-Highway 97 intersection, and as well as upgrades to several other Peachland intersections.

“I guess I was kind of alarmed to hear that for the Trepanier intersection, you requested funding you don’t actually have it in place yet,” Coun. David Collins said to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staffers giving the presentation.

Collins was told that’s not unusual. Planning is done first. The funding follows.

“Trepanier’s no small project,” said James Donnelly, a senior transportation engineer with consulting firm Urban Systems. “It’s many, many millions of dollars to fix that intersection.”

Mayor Patrick Van Minsel said he lobbied Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming in a meeting earlier Tuesday about the Renfrew Road intersection at the south end of town and was assured it’s priority No. 2.

Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a 72-unit development on Renfrew Road that may make upgrades there more urgent.

The highway plan, in the works for years, proposes improvements from Peachland to Lake Country. It recommends removing the Westbank highway couplet. The solution may be to put the entire highway on one of the roads running through the centre of Westbank, council heard.

A second bridge across the lake is rejected, but a sixth lane could be added to the W.R. Bennett Bridge for transit.

Previous studies have said a Peachland bypass won’t be needed until 2040. The idea will be revisited closer to that time, council was told.

The strategy was presented to Kelowna council on Monday. Presentations will also be made to Lake Country and West Kelowna councils and the Central Okanagan regional district. Funding is not in place for any of the projects proposed in the strategy.

Peachland is also lobbying to lower the 90 km/h speed limit on Highway 97 from Princeton Avenue to Antler’s Beach to 70 km/h

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