The proposed extension of Clement Avenue. (City of Kelowna)

‘Bridge to nowhere’: Kelowna council dismisses second bridge over Okanagan Lake for incremental approach

City report stated a second bridge and freeway would cost ‘well in excess’ of $1 billion

A second bridge over Okanagan Lake and a freeway alternative along Kelowna’s north end are unlikely according to city planners and unnecessary according to some city councillors.

City staff described the project as “prohibitively expensive,” after an over-$300 million jump in price since initial plans in 2007. The project would now likely cost “well in excess” of $1 billion.

“In terms of cost-benefit analysis; it’s proven to be difficult,” said Rafael Villarreal, the city’s integrated transportation department manager, while presenting a report to council on Monday.

“To make sense, it has to be a full freeway or it’s not of enough benefit. It’s difficult to say the concept is dead, but the reality is, we don’t know when it’s going to happen. I’m not even sure if it’s within 20 or 25 years.”

READ MORE: Minster says Highway 97 study is on hold

READ MORE: Second bridge across Okanagan Lake ‘unlikely’ because of $1 billion price tag

The historic vision of the Highway 33 extension plan was coined as a Highway 97 alternative, connecting UBCO on the east end of the city to a second bridge over the lake to West Kelowna by a highspeed freeway, but that plan now looks doubtful due to inflated costs.

Instead, an incremental approach is being sought by city staff.

The revised plans indicate it may be more realistic to build an arterial roadway connecting Clement Avenue to McCurdy Road instead of the high-speed freeway with interchanges that was initially envisioned in the first plan. Clement Avenue currently ends at Spall Road.

The proposed road would run parallel to the Rail Trail, which was recently completed by the city. If the plan moves forward the city would have to relocate its bus facility.

The scope of work includes a four-lane connection between Spall Road and Highway 33, with at-grade intersections at Spall, Dilworth, and Enterprise. The most recent cost estimate for theis work is $57 million.

Councillors largely dismissed the second crossing but commended the staff’s work on seeking a less drastic approach.

“An incremental approach from Spall to Dilworth — Highway 33 if we’re lucky — would be a useful road that will help overall,” said Coun. Luke Stack.

“I like the incremental approach to moving this forward and I think we’re on the right path.”

Despite the fact that she hasn’t dismissed a second bridge for the future, Coun. Gail Given said she sees “great wisdom” in staff investigating the extension as an arterial roadway rather than a freeway.

“While we haven’t totally written off the second crossing, the evidence points in a different direction,” she said.

“(This plan) is going to provide the best benefit to our community in the shorter term.”

She did, however, ask staff to consider the potential future development in their land acquisitions.

“There’s nothing worse than having a highway corridor that’s constrained with a building immediately on either side and you have no options into the future. As we do our land acquisition, we should plan for a much broader corridor. One that would support transit into the future or that would support a freeway into the future.”

A “bridge to nowhere” is how Coun. Charlie Hodge described the second crossing.

“Building a second crossing in my mind makes no sense,” said Coun. Charlie Hodge.

Hodge expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the project, citing that the newly proposed plans cross two wetlands.

“This road goes right through wetlands. What does the Ministry of Environment have to say about that?” he asked.

Villarreal said the area between Spall and Highway 33 is a very complicated site from an environmental perspective.

“When the first designs were done in 2008, the regulation wasn’t as complicated as it is today,” he said.

“We are going to make sure that there is enough mitigation. The ministry is going to have to tell us what we need.

“That’s part of why this road is expensive. If we’re going to build it, we have to make sure we comply with all the environmental regulations.”


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New partnership lets Kelowna family save on medical transportation costs

New Hope Air and Airbnb initiative provides patients free accommodation while traveling to city centres for medical reasons

Kelowna karate stars bring home 24 medals from B.C. championships

Thirteen athletes from Kelowna Karate and Fitness performed strong at the provincials last weekend

City of Kelowna implements two new electric vehicle charging stations

EV drivers will now have four charging options across the city

Third Space Life Charity announces Jody Phil as executive director

Jody Pihl will succeed Allie Grey who served as the executive director for the past three years

Convicted child rapist loses sentence appeal in Kelowna

The man was sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2016

BC SPCA Kelowna holiday bake sale kicks off Nov. 7

Event will help to raise money for stray and neglected animals

John Mann, singer and songwriter of group Spirit of the West dead at 57

Mann died peacefully in Vancouver on Wednesday from early onset Alzheimer’s

VIDEO: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

B.C. mayor urges premier to tweak road speeds in an ‘epidemic of road crash fatalities’

Haynes cites ICBC and provincial documents in letter to John Horgan

South Cariboo Driver hits four cows due to fog

The RCMP’s investigation is ongoing

Hergott: Day of remembrance for road traffic victims

Lawyer Paul Hergott’s latest column

Revelstoke man who sexually assaulted drunk woman sentenced to 18 months house arrest

For the first nine months he cannot leave his home between 2 p.m. and 11 a.m. except for work

Kamloops RCMP seek driver who hit teenager, then drove away

The 13-year-old boy was in a crosswalk, crossing Seymour Street at Eighth Avenue

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

Most Read