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Highway project aims for minimal disruption

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This diagram posted at a residents' meeting Tuesday shows what changes are in store for Sneena Road and Highway 97 after a construction project this year.
Construction on Highway 97 this summer should only add a minute or two to people's commutes, says the Westbank First Nation.
A five-lane detour promises to funnel motorists just east of the new overpass at Sneena Road on Bridge Hill.
The speed limit will drop to 50 km/h from 60 on the temporary section, said Evelyn Lube, who speaks for the WFN.
"We know we have increased traffic in the summertime," she said at Tuesday's open house for area residents. "We're talking about a 10 km/h reduction in the speed limit for 350 metres."
Crews will need less than five months to build the highway overpass so traffic on Sneena Road can travel under it. When the project finishes in November, Sneena will extend from Campbell to Westside roads and continue from Nancee Way to Tomat Avenue, Lube said.
The goal is to keep local traffic off the highway and add another access to the highway via the Campbell Road interchange. New housing is expected to follow.
"I'm sure there will be development in the coming years," Lube said. "It's an improvement to the local road system … which will support the future development of WFN lands.
"(We're) being proactive in making sure these roads are put in now in anticipation of development in the area."
Construction of the paved, five-lane detour will take about six weeks. Once it opens in June, traffic will be diverted from the highway in both directions.
Some trees along the Nancee Way-Tomat section will be removed. Blasting will take place from early March through June - Monday-Friday afternoons, as needed.
Work starts on both sections of Sneena in early March.
The two-lane Tomat section ends in August, and the single-lane Campbell Road section (northbound) finishes in November.
Once completed, Sneena Road will run parallel to the highway's south side behind the Okanagan Lake Shopping Centre.
Motorists will also have access to a for-profit hospital the WFN plans to build at Westside Road.
Several residents living along Tomat are concerned about the fencing proposed for the edge of their properties. The band plans to erect a cattle fence with mesh wide enough for a child to put his foot through.
Considering there's a cliff with a
20-metre drop on the other side, that's a problem, said Tomat resident Jan Schumacher.
"It's an invitation to climb and kids climb," she said. "They're looking at having an injured child here. They really have to take full responsibility … for safety in our back yards. Children play right beside that fence."
The band will consider whether changing the type of fence is possible, Lube said.
The B.C. government is paying for the underpass and related road works as part of an agreement Victoria struck with the WFN before construction of the Bennett Bridge, which opened in 2008.
The band has also designed walking paths and cycling lanes along Sneena Road.

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