Thousands of people have been gearing up for it for months now–a major road closure that links Kelowna to the Lower and Upper Mission areas of the city.
But while Lakeshore Road was supposed to shut down this morning, that never happened. City crews needed the extra day to put out all of the detour signs before going ahead with the closure.
But the roughly half a kilometer section of road between Cook Road and Lexington Drive will shut down first thing tomorrow morning.
The closure will allow for a major overhaul.
“I think the term Lakeshore road upgrade really captures it. It will be a total upgrade, a really nice feel to it. It will be more of a destination place. That’s what you should expect,” says City of Kelowna spokesperson Purvez Irani.
One of the key components of the 11 Million dollar project will be a new bridge over Mission Creek. The new one will be nearly 3 meters higher. That will help prevent huge log jams like the one last year that forced the bridge to be closed temporarily.
In addition to a brand new bridge, the project also includes underground work with new utilities. On the surface, it also entails the addition of new sidewalks a multi-use path, new streetscaping and a roundabout at Lexington drive.
The work will take about six months to complete with the road expected to reopen at the end of November.
Many people as well as area business owners have been questioning why the city is closing such a vital road during the busy summer months.
“The only time to work to do in stream work is during summer months during the fish window so we are stuck with that schedule,” says Irani.
Area businesses are worried they will take a big hit during the construction work.
“Obviously we will lose a lot of foot traffic. In the summer tourist traffic comes from the resorts up the road. I have actually geared my whole business around that traffic,” says Cathy Biagi. Biagi owns the Richcraft Gallery and Picture Framing store that will be cut off from highly populated tourist resorts like the El Dorado and Manteo.
While Biagi agrees the upgrade has to happen, she doesn’t know if her business will survive long enough to enjoy it.
“It will be amazing when done I just hope I am here to see it,” she says.
The city says it will do as much as it can to help support the businesses affected and hopes the public does too.
“We will be doing radio ads that businesses are open. We will be putting signs, all that we can do for businesses, all that is technically possible to do,” says Irani.