Morning Star Staff
One of the North Okanagan’s most dangerous stretch of roads is getting a complete overhaul.
It was announced Tuesday that an $11-million realignment of Highway 6 in Coldstream is proceeding.
“It’s a section with a crash rate higher than the provincial average,” said Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom.
“Shovels will be in the ground this summer and construction will be completed in the summer of 2013. Our commitment to safety is unquestionable.”
About 2.2 kilometres of the highway will be realigned between Grey and Ricardo roads. Existing sharp curves will be straightened to improve sightlines while shoulders will be widened to improve safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
The intersections at Grey, Kalamalka and Ricardo roads will be upgraded, with left and right turn lanes installed.
There will also be a new railway crossing.
Demands for improvements to Highway 6 have existed for years.
“We’ve been fortunate not to have a fatality,” said Keith Balcaen, Coldstream Ranch owner.
“The accidents keep happening.”
District of Coldstream officials receive several complaints about conditions on Highway 6 and particularly at the Kalamalka Road intersection.
“Council made this a commitment when we were elected two terms ago,” said Coun. Richard Enns of lobbying the government for action.
Some changes have been made to the original design to reflect input from Coldstream Ranch and the Agricultural Land Commission.
The work will also include enlarging the existing Coldstream Creek culvert under the highway to improve fish habitat.
An announcement regarding realignment was made in 2010 but Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster insists Tuesday’s press conference wasn’t a case of the government recycling projects.
“We announced the planning (in 2010) but we didn’t allocate the funds. The funds are now in place,” he said.
Foster, who lives in Lumby, drives this stretch of highway several times a day. He believes the realignment work will be beneficial.
“It will move goods up and down the road safer and our residents,” said Foster.
Also announced Tuesday was resurfacing of four kilometres of Highway 97A in Spallumcheen.
The $3-million project will extend from Crozier to Pleasant Valley Cross roads and it will complete highway resurfacing from Vernon to Armstrong.
“This will improve the comfort and safety (of motorists),” said Lekstrom.
Tenders will be issued in the spring and it’s expected that resurfacing will be completed by the end of August.