The province plans to begin removing the arms of Sicamous’ infamous ‘octopus intersection’ in early 2016.
“We’re going to change this from the octopus to calamari,” an elated Mayor Terry Rysz exclaimed Monday afternoon to a group of people gathered at a boulevard/drainage ditch near the Highway 97A/Main Street intersection. The unusual outing was organized by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to announce the intersection will be upgraded to a single-lane roundabout next year.
“This intersection work is long overdue,” commented Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo, noting the project is expected to cost $7 million dollars, to be funded from a $30 million MOTI fund intended for intersection safety improvements.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone made the announcement, explaining the roundabout would include safety improvements revealed to Sicamous residents at a May 5 open house. These include the realignment of Paradise Avenue at 97A, LED lighting and upgrades for pedestrian and cycling traffic including sidewalks, crosswalks with refuge islands and bicycle lanes. The final intersection redesign will also incorporate feedback from the open house, such us the extension of the eastbound merging lane from 97A onto the Trans-Canada Highway.
“The new roundabout will keep traffic flowing on the highway and on this challenging intersection, and it will help us reduce and avoid serious crashes,” commented Stone. “It will also be easier for the students and staff at Eagle River Secondary School to get to and from their school safely.
“With the Trans-Canada Highway going right through your community, this roundabout will make it easier for travellers to come into your community and spend time and money here in Sicamous.”
Earlier that day, Stone announced other highway safety improvements happening in the region, including electronic speed signs in Revelstoke and a new avalanche control system for Three Valley Gap (see page 3). He also spoke of various four-laning projects for the Trans-Canada Highway that the province intends to move ahead as part of its 10-year transportation plan, BC on the Move. They include the replacement of the Bruhn Bridge, the Salmon River Bridge in Salmon Arm and the North Fork Bridge east of Sicamous.
“You can see by the traffic that’s going by here right now, how important it is to this community to have this project going forward,” said Rysz.