Highway 97 - Peachland Transportation Study
We are exploring ways to improve safety, travel times and congestion moving in and through Peachland and the Central Okanagan region. The Peachland Transportation Study launched in 2015 and is in its second phase. It is part of the broader Central Okanagan Planning Study
We are studying ways to accommodate increasing traffic volumes that have resulted from the strong economic and population growth in the Central Okanagan. Improvements to the Peachland section of Highway 97 will ensure the highway better meets the mobility and safety needs of the region, both now and in the future.
Phase I: What we did
In Phase I, we examined conditions along the current highway and future transportation needs around Peachland to develop an understanding of the transportation priorities and constraints in the region. Some of the findings include:
- One-third of the traffic that starts in Peachland stays in Peachland
- Highway 97 in Peachland is vital for both local trips within Peachland as well as long-distance connections to, through and from Peachland
- Peachland hosts high volumes of visiting traffic, particularly in the summer months
- Safety concerns associated with getting on and off the highway may increase at intersections as wait times grow (along with traffic volumes)
From August 12 to September 4, 2020, we invited community feedback on short, medium and long-term corridor safety improvements. This engagement included a guidebook that provided study background and an overview of the findings.
We also created a document to answer Frequently Asked Questions during the engagement.
Community engagement was an integral part of Phase I. Initial engagement took place in 2016, where community members and stakeholders identified their ideas, values, considerations, and concerns about the corridor and future changes. They also shared feedback on the results of the conditions and performance assessment.
Based on these findings, the project team identified several options to improve traffic safety and address congestion in the region. We identified five options involving the creation of an alternate route, bypassing Peachland, and 14 segment options that would upgrade the existing highway. We brought these initial options to the public for feedback through two open houses in 2016.
- Read the Highway 97 - Peachland Transportation Study - Phase 1 - Preferred Route Options - What We Heard Report.
Equipped with feedback from Phase I engagement, the project team began a rigorous technical evaluation process through 2017-2019. The team screened each option for environmental impact, social and community impacts, traffic and travel demand, engineering feasibility, and cost. This process helped the team create a shortlist of options.
The team examined five alternate route options – formerly referred to as bypass options. We also explored fourteen existing route segment options, where we looked at different portions of Highway 97 to understand how to improve and enhance specific segments of the alignment. The initial alternate and existing route options were put through technical screening to determine if any of the options were too technically difficult to proceed with as part of the study.
Following the technical screening, we shortlisted three alternate route options, and three existing route option packages (each consisting of multiple segments). The existing route options packages were based on three different approaches to improve the existing highway.
Alternate route options:
- AR-A – Westerly & High Elevation Route
- AR-B – Central & High Elevation Route
- AR-C – Lower Elevation Route
Existing route options packages:
- ER-A – Maintain at-grade intersections
- ER-B – Create grade separation with larger bypasses
- ER-C – Creating additional grade separation with a larger bypass
Each of these short-listed options were then put through a Multiple Account Evaluation process.
Multiple Account Evaluation
A Multiple Account Evaluation (MAE) is a process used to identify key impacts and trade-offs when making large-scale infrastructure decisions. For this project, the MAE assessed each alternate and existing route option on four key accounts and their associated criteria:
- Customer service: which considers estimated traffic volumes, safety, effects on travel times, and accommodation for pedestrians and cyclists
- Socio-community: which considers property, visual, noise, community impacts, and consistency with community plans where feasible
- Environmental: which considers land and aquatic impacts, archaeological or historical impacts, and the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions
- Financial: which considers capital costs, maintenance and rehabilitation costs, and property costs
Review the Phase I Screening Guide, a summary of the technical and MAE screening results.
The following graphics summarize the technical screening and MAE process as it was applied to the initial five alternate and initial 15 existing routes options.
Based on technical screening and the MAE, we identified:
- AR-C (Lower Elevation Route) as the preferred alternate route option
- ER-A (Maintain At-Grade Intersections) as the preferred existing route option package
To refine the preferred options and ensure they reflected the needs and considerations of Peachland, in spring 2019, the project team engaged with
- the project’s community liaison
- technical advisory committees
- District of Peachland Council
- Penticton Indian Band
Based on feedback from community representatives we re-introduced AR-4 as a preferred alternate route option for further consideration.
AR-4 was initially removed from consideration based on technical screening findings. It was one of the original alternate route options presented to communities in 2016. It is similar to AR-C, the Lower Elevation Route, except along the southern portion of the alignment where it extends further west into the Deep Creek valley before reconnecting with the existing highway.
Phase I of the study has also confirmed that the two-lane section of the corridor will not reach capacity until 2040. We will continue to monitor traffic volumes, travel patterns and safety on Highway 97 through Peachland. The study will be reviewed when the time comes to start planning for a four-lane corridor.