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Study looks at second lake crossing

August 9, 2016 9:15 A.M.
W.R. Bennett Bridge on Okanagan Lake. (


Central Okanagan residents could get a look at some alignment options for a potential second crossing of Okanagan Lake.

The study is looking at the possibility of a second crossing, as well as other transportation solutions throughout the Central Okanagan.

Ross Coates, project manager of the Central Okanagan Planning Study, spoke to Kelowna council Monday, updating them on the progress to date of the three-year study.

The study began in the summer of 2014.

"We are beginning to explore access measures, to make the highway more efficient," said Coates.

"We are also beginning to generate options which may involve re-alignment of the highway through, and around, communities. And, we are beginning to explore potential second crossing alignments."

Much of the information gathered has come via consultations with regional governments and stakeholders as well as public views from open houses.

The next open house is scheduled for the fall.

"At the fall open house, we expect to share possible options for access measures, highway alignment and even possible second crossing alignments for public feedback," said Coates

"Next year, we plan to have recommendations for short, medium and long-term, along with a strategy of how to get there."

Some of the possible solutions at the open house will come from traffic and travel statistics gathered over the past several years.

For instance, Coates said only four per cent of traffic crossing the William R. Bennett Bridge is passing through the region.

Ninety-six per cent starts, or finishes, within the region. That's up from 85 per cent about a dozen years ago, he said.

"Also, more than two-thirds of the trips across the bridge are between Kelowna and the Westside," he said.

"These are important considerations when thinking about alternate routes and crossing locations."

Coates added that, while traffic volumes are highest on the bridge, congestion is greatest on the urban areas on the other side of the bridge.

"This realization has caused us to think hard what the role of the provincial highway is, especially in these urban areas. We are still investigating as we speak," he said.

"We are considering the role of Highway 97, in the context of the vision for the regional transportation network expressed by the municipalities that took part in the Okanagan Valley Transportation Symposium in 2011."

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