Changes planned for Kelowna, B.C. intersection where teen died, ministry says

The intersection of Highway 97 and Old Vernon Road. Global News

Changes to a dangerous intersection where a Kelowna, B.C., teen was killed and many others have been injured are in the works, according to the Ministry of Transportation.

In response to questions about what plans are underway for a Highway 97 and Old Vernon Road / Dry Valley Road intersection in light of a spate of recent crashes, a ministry representative said that a 2020 report dubbed the Okanagan Gateway Transportation Study provided long-term planning for the problematic intersection.

Read more: ‘It’s a death trap’: Dad of Lake Country teen who died in Highway 97 crash calls for change

“The study identified improvements for this intersection that would include restricting left turns onto the highway in conjunction with the construction of new local frontage roads, and the eventual construction of an interchange at Airport Way,” a ministry representative said in an email.

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“The ministry is engaging with the city and the airport to determine timing and next steps for advancing future improvements.”

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In the meantime, however, they are also looking at some shorter-term solutions.

“Following this accident, the Ministry will be reviewing this area to determine whether other shorter-term safety measures or signage would be appropriate at this intersection,” the ministry representative said.

The ministry statement included condolences for the Hansom family, as well.

“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the young person lost in last week’s accident at Highway 97 and Old Vernon Road,” read the statement.

Read more: West Kelowna says crash cost $35K in damage, public help sought in finding driver

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Tavin Hansom, 18, died on June 23, just before 4 p.m., while driving his motorbike home from work, heading north on Highway 97.

A car leaving Old Vernon Road turned left onto the highway in front of him and the collision was fatal.

That particular intersection on a four-lane stretch of the 90-kilometre highway is one both Hansoms have passed often on their way home from work. It has no traffic lights and no medians dissuading motorists from making turns against traffic, which can be dangerous, if not deadly.

From 2016 to 2020, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reported there were 125 crashes at that intersection.

James Hansom, Tavin’s dad, said there was another crash on Tuesday in the same spot his son died just six days earlier.

No fatalities were reported in that crash, but the sight of it hit James hard.

In the week since, James has been lobbying to see changes in the area where his son died, noting that he’d like to spare any other families the grief he’s been saddled with.

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