A dangerous intersection on Highway 97 near Penticton is getting safety upgrades.
The Ministry of Transporation and Infrastructure confirmed with the Western News that a protected turning lane will go in at the intersection of Highway 97 and 3A in Kaleden.
Subrina Monteith, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen director for Kaleden, has been pushing for safety improvements for that corridor for a long time.
“This is great news,” she said on Monday.
Monteith, along with Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell had recent meetings with the ministry staff about the dangerous intersection that has a near blind left turn from Highway 3A onto Highway 97.
“The footprint of the intersection won’t change but there will be a change of flow of traffic with a protected turning lane,” said Monteith.
Some had wanted a traffic light at the intersection.
“Anything that will improve entering and exiting the highway safely is a good thing,” added Monteith.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), the increase in traffic after Highway 5 was closed put this intersection in focus.
“The ministry has engaged a project team to review options for the Highway 97 and Highway 3A intersection near Kaleden,” said MOTI.
Following November’s atmospheric river event, this intersection saw a significant increase in traffic-related to the closure of the Coquihalla, said the MOTI.
“This review has been completed and a protected turning lane was found to be the best option for both safety and constructability.”
The ministry is also aware of the change.org petition signed by more than 4,000 people, asking for immediate action at the intersection.
“The people that signed the petition are from all over, from Vancouver to Osoyoos to locals which tells me this intersection and concerns about its safety span across B.C.,” said Monteith.
The MOTI project team is moving ahead on a detailed design for this improvement, during which consultation with key stakeholders will take place, including local emergency services and first responders, said the MOTI. The ministry has also begun consultation with Penticton Indian Band.
Subject to final funding approval and results of engagement and consultations, construction could go ahead as early as this summer, said MOTI in an email.
Monteith would love the project to be complete before the summer rush of tourists.
“I believe the intent is to have this done sooner rather than later but it is dependent on funding. All the right people are at the table on this one. I do feel positive that this upgrade will improve safety for large rigs, tourists and locals,” said Monteith.
Last week saw two crashes within hours of each other on Monday and another crash Tuesday morning at that corridor.
“The problem is when looking at this corridor they are counting the crashes but if they counted the near misses, it would be off the charts,” said Monteith. “You can actually watch the near misses on the DriveBC cams.”
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