Highway 97A route could be changed to accommodate more traffic

Province could change Highway 97A’s route through Enderby
The province expects within 25 years, during the summer rush, an additional 8,000 vehicles will drive Highway 97A daily, putting the highway over capacity.

Within 25 years, the province expects Highway 97A through Enderby to be over capacity.

It’s planning now for those long-term upgrades but has ruled out simply widening the existing highway through town.

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Instead, the province presented Enderby residents with a range of other shorted-listed options on Wednesday night and is asking for public feedback.

All of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s six shortlisted routes through Enderby involves transferring some or all of the highway traffic off the existing highway to parallel right-of-ways inside the city, including the former rail corridor and Vernon Street.

Some of the options include having only southbound traffic on the existing highway while northbound traffic uses a new road along the former rail corridor, and creating a new highway route through Enderby along the rail corridor.

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District manager for transportation Steve Sirett said the ministry is not looking at widening the existing highway because of the impact it would have on homes and businesses along the roadway.

The challenge for planners is that whatever route is picked could create winners and losers.

At an open house on the plans Wednesday night, residents raised concerns about the possible impacts of different routes because some companies rely on the highway traffic as an important source of business and few residents will want to see significant traffic rerouted past their homes.

“That’s why we are here to listen to that kind of feedback. We certainly recognize whether we are going to four-lane a highway or shift highways around that there are impacts that come along with that,” Sirett said.

Some residents are still hoping to see a bypass option. However, several potential bypasses have already been considered and rejected by the ministry.

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“The amount of traffic that was going to utilize that corridor in the long term wouldn’t actually have been that significant and there still would have been impacts to the existing highway,” Sirett said.

The city’s mayor feels bypasses don’t work and in this case would not make it quicker for Enderby residents to travel to nearby communities like Vernon an Salmon Arm.

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“It isolates so many communities. It makes things so difficult from an economic through to a social standpoint,” Mayor Greg McCune said.

Whatever this transportation study concludes, the changes won’t come quickly.

The study isn’t expected to be finished until early next year.

More details on the proposed options are available here.