Locals had the chance to view proposed concepts of four laning the stretch of Highway 97 between Carson Drive to Fox Mountain during an open house held by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure June 21 in Williams Lake.
After six months of research and mulling over 13 different scenarios, Urban Systems out of Kelowna has narrowed it down to two concepts, although staff says those two are not necessarily written in stone, hence the open house was held to gather community input.
The first option would see splitting the Toop Road intersection and reconfiguring the access points to allow right-left in/right out movements only. The second option would relocate the Toop Road access further north and restrict movements similar to the first option.
Within both options, the Carson Drive intersection would be improved.
The main difference between the two options is what happens at the Toop Road intersection, transportation planner Jeremy Finkleman explains.
“In the first option the access to 11th Avenue is provided at its current location, while access to Toop is shifted north about 150 metres, whereas in the second option both accesses to 11th and to Toop are shifted north.”
One of the reasons why the intersection is shifted north has to do with spacing. There are guidelines that state that intersections along a major highway should be spaced at least 400 metres apart.
Currently the spacing is about 250 metres so for safety reasons it’s proposed to relocate and reconfigure the intersection at Toop Road.
“One of the main disadvantages of relocating it north is the grade. It’s fairly steep on the 11th Avenue side from Highway 97 over to Smedley Street, similar to Carson Drive. While you entertain that 400-metre guideline by shifting the intersection north, the major disadvantage is the grade, so the compromise option was developed.”
The compromise option, splitting the Toop Road intersection, successfully obtains the spacing for the north-bound movement, but does not obtain it for the south-bound movement.
However, it does address the steep grade issue, which can be challenging for school buses.
Historically both intersections have been high in the provincial context for crash severity and frequency.