There is no doubt the new bridge at Green Avenue is going to be an economic booster for both the Penticton Indian Band and the region as a whole.
But that is when it is complete and has opened access to developable land on the PIB. In the meantime, it’s a pain in the neck for traffic along the Channel Parkway.
In order to accommodate construction crews and equipment needed to build the bridge traffic has been narrowed through that area to two lanes, one northbound, one southbound, also partially blocking access to Green Avenue.
That has already led to some tight squeezes as drivers are funnelled by concrete dividers and construction cones into the narrowed lanes – the road has shrunken, but the Parkway’s 70 km/h speed limit remains in place through the construction zone.
However, the Ministry of Transportation has decided that keeping the 70 km/h speed limit is appropriate for the highway configuration through the site. That is thanks, in part, to the Western News’ coverage of RCMP enforcement efforts, which the ministry said “resulted in significantly improved compliance with new traffic patterns at intersection the very next day.”
However, the fact remains that section of the Parkway is significantly harder to navigate, and 70 km/h doesn’t leave much reaction point on the part of drivers should something enter the traffic funnel unexpectedly – especially if it should happen to be one of the workmen that have been spotted walking along the top of the concrete dividers, with traffic racing by beneath them.
The good news is the situation isn’t going to continue until the bridge is finished, sometime this fall. Like the construction of the new walkway along Okanagan Lake in 2013, the bridge’s work schedule includes a break during the busy summer season, with the Channel Parkway restored to normal traffic by June.
Until then, we hope drivers will continue taking notice of the dangerous conditions and modify their driving behaviour accordingly.