A citizens committee design concept is being forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) for feedback.
Committee representatives presented the concept — featuring roundabouts, an overpass and underpass for the Toop Road and Highway 97 intersection — to city staff and council during a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.
The group had been insisting council look at an alternative traffic design for the area, and remains resolute in its opposition to both design options put forward by the MOTI and the city.
“When we first came up with the idea for roundabouts we looked for an existing example within the province,” said committee spokesperson Shel Myers.
Myers then shared an example from West Kelowna.
“You can see it’s the west end of the Okanagan bridge there and you’ll notice this is quite similar to the problems we’re facing,” Myers said as he showed a Google Map image of the area.
“You have a four-lane highway with various limitations, egress, ingress problems, and the roundabouts work quite well in this case.”
In the committee’s vision, the roundabouts would have sidewalks with access for pedestrians and bicycles and wheelchairs, Myers noted.
After the presentation, council voted unanimously to receive the information and directed staff to forward the information to the MOTI and report back at the committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 4.
The citizens committee also asked council to reconsider hiring an independent traffic engineer to analyze the project data to date, which was supported last week by councillors Surinderpal Rathor and Ivan Bonnell, but defeated by council during its regular meeting.
The committee’s latest presentation, however, will not stall council’s direction to staff to prepare a report on Option One for the Highway upgrade to present on Feb. 4.
At the Jan. 14 regular meeting council passed a motion to move forward with Option One. Before voting at the regular meeting, Mayor Kerry Cook said Option One isn’t perfect, but she suggested council move forward, refer it to staff to bring a report back to council with the next steps and suggested revisions.
“I think we have enough information and feedback and have narrowed it down,” Cook said.
“I think it’s important we continue to narrow it down in one direction, recognizing that we need to make sure it’s well thought out.”
Option One consists of two connections from a new signalized highway intersection at Toop Road.
“Drivers heading west will have the choice of turning onto McKinnon Road or 11th Avenue. This option essentially maintains traffic patterns as they are today, yet with modern, improved geometry that will vastly improve safety and usability,” the city said in a press release Wednesday.
Through the summer and fall, two options for street connections were identified by the MOTI and were the subject of open houses held in August and October, the city said.
The main difference being that Option Two added a connection to Johnson Street to the Option One concept which would have offered a more direct route to the hospital.
After it receives staff’s report on Feb. 4, council will make decisions allowing the province to proceed with the four-laning project, the city noted.