It’s taken more than six months, but an upgrade to Highway 97 and Stickle Road north of Vernon should be done by the end of this month.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry says the finishing touches are being put on the intersection project.
“Paving was completed at the end of October and remaining work will take place throughout the rest of this month. This includes constructing concrete medians, installing new signs and lighting, applying pavement markings, landscaping and cleaning up the construction site,” says an email from the Ministry to Beach Radio News.
The project is extending left turn lanes, installing acceleration and deceleration lanes, and removing left turns onto Highway 97.
“The Highway 97/Stickle Road intersection improvements at the north end of Vernon will make it easier for people to safely move through the area,” adds the ministry.
The extension project to connect the frontage road on Stickle Road to 20th Street behind Rona will be done by next fall, subject to the settlement of pre-loaded soil.
“This work will not impact traffic on Highway 97.”
Motorists wanting to return to Vernon from Stickle Road will have to use Pleasant Valley Road until the extension is completed.
The budget for the whole project is $15 million.
It’s been plagued by controversy since the process began, with many people and businesses calling for a traffic light at the intersection which ministry staff ruled out from day one, saying engineering and traffic counts didn’t warrant a signal.
The government said in 2016 an independent report concluded a traffic signal “would further increase the risk of rear-end collisions and delay traffic.”
There was another uproar from environmental groups when it was learned a revamped plan had the extension going through the BX Creek Delta wetland, which is a key habitat for four protected species.
The ministry, then led by minister Todd Stone, said it conducted geotechnical and environment investigations to ensure environmental considerations are identified and the impacts are mitigated.
“The mitigation plan includes improving fish habitat, planting native riparian vegetation, and installing bird and bat nesting boxes,” said a ministry release in Nov. 2016.
Photo courtesy of TransBC.ca