The Second Crossing: What You Need to Know About the Provincial Government's Plans for a New Bridge

In case you haven't heard yet, British Columbia's Premier revealed plans last July to go ahead with building a new bridge across Okanagan Lake. The plans themselves are still in the early stages of development, though initial work is set to begin soon to prepare for the monumental task that lies ahead. In the meantime, here's everything else you need to know about the provincial government's plans for a brand new bridge.

The Project's Initial Funding Is Already Underway

The province's Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has already initialized a plan to pump $2 million dollars into a preliminary planning and assessment process for the new bridge. That process, according to the ministry, which is expected to be carried out over the course of the next 3 years, will involve a comprehensive analysis of the bridge's engineering as well as the overall transportation requirements of the surrounding regions. The ministry stressed that the planning and assessment stage should eventually reveal what the second crossing will look like, but that such results are still quite a while away from being delivered.

Consultations Have Started With Local Mayors

In addition to the initial funding, Todd Stone, BC's Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, recently started consultations back in December of 2013 with mayors in the region whose municipalities will be directly serviced by the new bridge. West Kelowna's Mayor, Doug Findlater, commented on those talks by saying that he was happy about the initial $2 million investment but that he was interested in actually seeing the project expanded. The main point he emphasized in particular was that the entire second crossing plan should be in some way integrated with Highway 97 bypassing the local municipality of Peachland. "We think this has to be re-oriented a little bit, in order to look at a corridor plan related to the second crossing and a Peachland bypass. And where does it go: In or around West Kelowna? Because it has a lot of implications for this community," Findlater remarked.

Community Consultations with the Public Are Also Planned

Along with consultations between Stone and regional mayors, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has also put forth an invitation to local residents of the District of West Kelowna to participate in public talks. Dates for those discussions have yet to be announced, but they would allow for those residents who will be most directly impacted by a second bridge over Okanagan Lake to voice their concerns and opinions about the project. Mayor Findlater was pleased by this invitation and added that the main topic residents should focus on during the talks is the broader implications for the community.

The province's new bridge project across Okanagan Lake is still in the very early stages, meaning that most of the specifics about the future crossing are not yet known. All that can be said for certain at this point is that the surrounding communities will have to carefully consider all the positive and negative impacts that such a new bride will bring. As a resident, the best thing you can do right now is pay attention to the additional details that are sure to be revealed in the months and years to come.

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