Lake Country cyclist Karen Krysco sets out to ride the new Highway 97.

Lake Country cyclist Karen Krysco sets out to ride the new Highway 97.

Bikers enjoyed sneak peak, then the whole thing as Highway 97 opens

Many in Lake Country spent time on the new road before the official opening on Friday, enjoying near virgin territory

For the past several weeks, as Lake Country’s new four-lane highway was nearing completion, some Lake Country residents were beginning to take sneak-peaks at what was virgin territory for most area folks.

Never before had most laid eyes on the new views of the area with pristine surroundings and a peaceful atmosphere, minus the 26,000 cars that now travel the highway every single day.

The as-yet-unopened but welcoming four-lane stretch of perfect pavement had been tested by riders and walkers, including Karen Krysco, who sat at the front of the bike lane on Friday afternoon, waiting for the official ceremonies to end so she could ride the road, even though she had almost made the whole route already.

“I really want to experience this new highway in its entirety,” said Krysco. “Lot’s of us have been sneaking on here but since they started working Sundays it’s been more difficult.”

Among the features of the new highway, save for the stunning views, are two truck-climbing lanes for slower moving traffic as well as overpasses near Oceola Road at the south end of Wood Lake and at Gatzke Road at the north end.

Along with work to preserve native artifacts discovered during construction (see main story) crews also took care to ensure local wildlife was not disturbed. Two environmentally sensitive areas with bat habitat were preserved. Lizards and snakes found along the route during construction were also captured and relocated to two newly constructed reptile dens.

As for the procession of bikers who decided to make the initial nine kilometre trek along the new highway before it was opened to traffic, they can now turn their attention to a different route, this one old, yet new as the former highway became Pelmewash Parkway, a seven kilometre stretch of lake-front whose future remains up for discussion.

“I am looking more forward to what is going to happen with Pelmewash Parkway and how we will reclaim it (than riding the new highway). When you live in Lake Country you have to bike a lot of hills so I’m looking forward to having a place that is flat to ride,” she said laughing.

Lake Country council is expected to hear recommendations on the future of Pelmewash in late September.

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