It won’t be long now until work on the new stretch of Highway 97 from Winfield to Oyama begins. Last week the project received federal approval of its environmental impact.
The project now goes out to tender until March 10. It will then take two weeks to review the bids and award the contract.
The government is touting the new highway alignment as a two and a half year project.
“To finish in 2013 work needs to get started soon. The exact date will be detailed in the bid, but we should see progress on the ground by spring,” says MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country Norm Letnick.
Letnick says the new road will improve safety on the notoriously accident-prone section of highway.
It will also offer greater convenience to drivers by providing two lanes in each direction and increasing the speed limit to 100 km/h.
The new section will tie into the existing highway north of Oceola Road at the Winfield end and North of Gatzke Road at the Oyama end.
When it’s completed the new highway will carry 22,000 cars daily, with that number jumping to 35,000 by 2035 says Letnick.
The existing highway along Wood Lake will become a municipal road after Highway 97 has been rerouted. Lake Country council has expressed a desire to use the lakeside corridor to expand recreational opportunities in the District. Letnick says the province is friendly to the recreation idea and is currently in discussion with the municipality over the matter.
The cost of the nine kilometre section of highway is $77.9 million with $44.3 million coming from the province and $33.6 million coming from the federal government.
For a drivers point-of-view video rendering of the new highway visit http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/OkanaganValley/video/Winfield_Oyama_NB/index.html