road barriers

A stretch of Highway 97 just outside Sun-Oka beach, where no barrier is installed between the road and lake.

A stretch of highway between Penticton and Summerland may soon have a barrier installed between the road and lake.

Steve Sirett, the program manager for the Ministry of Transportation, confirmed Thursday at a Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen meeting the project is in the queue.

“We did another review … and it did identify some additional areas,” he said. “I don’t know off the top of my head exactly where. So I don’t have a timeline for when you might see more out there.”

He said centre-line barriers have also been identified as a necessity along Highway 97.

“As traffic volume increases, the probability of crossovers increase with it, so we look at it from that perspective. So that signal specifically isn’t quite at that threshold, but it’s still something we want to look at,” he said.

Summerland Coun. Erin Trainer, who was sitting in for Mayor Toni Boot, said the concern they’re most aware of is roadside barriers along the lake.

“From the last park to Sun-Oka, that’s a section where we see in the winter, vehicles often go into the lake,” she said.

Ron Obirek, director for Area D (Skaha East/Okanagan Falls), used the opportunity with Sirett to raise several concerns he’s heard coming out of Okanagan Falls.

“I had a tourist who was … travelling the KVR. They’re driving their bikes on the KVR, and they cross that highway because they want to see the falls,” he said. “They’re enjoying the KVR to its purpose. They cross the road and they’re on the bridge, and there’s not a safe way to cross.”

He said the wind from a truck driving at high speeds knocked one woman off her bike onto the roadway, and nearly took down another.

“This crossing has a very curious challenge, because the KVR trail is a wonderful invitation … and that crossing at that location is treacherous.”

Sirett said the goal is to funnel pedestrians to one or two well-used crossings, but he doesn’t have jurisdiction over the KVR trail.

“My preference, even the lights that are there today, are borderline unwarranted,” said Sirrett. “My preference is always to put the onus on the pedestrian to make sure they know how to use a crosswalk.”

George Bush, director for Area ‘B’ (Cawston) had some choice words for Sirett before the end of the meeting.

“Over the years, and since privatization, the transportation and infrastructure has really gone downhill,” he said. “We’re not getting the service we used to get. It is not good, especially in the rural areas. It is not good, and we’re not happy,” he said.