A motorist waits to cross Highway 97 at Grizzly Road on Friday afternoon. The provincial government has announced a $2-million traffic reconfiguration of the intersection, and left turns onto the highway will no longer be permitted there.
Left turns from Grizzly Road onto Highway 97 will no longer be permitted in a bid to reduce head-on and T-bone collisions, the provincial government announced Friday.
The $2-million traffic reconfiguration project includes concrete medians, new lighting and enhanced drainage. Localized flooding has been a problem in the past in the area.
"The changes are something I've been advocating for for two or three years now," West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said Friday. "It's a very tricky corner to make left turns at right now.
"With all the traffic on the highway, people wanting to turn get impatient, so they take chances and they get hurt," Findlater said.
Prohibiting left turns from Grizzly onto the highway means drivers will have to use better-controlled intersections nearby, such as ones at Daimler and Butt roads. That will result in a few minutes extra travel, but Findlater said the safety considerations are worth the delay.
Traffic on the highway corridor has also been slowed slightly this year by the addition of advance left-turn signals at many intersections.
Since Grizzly is a lightly used road, primarily servicing a nearby trailer park, the intersection is ranked well down the list of Westside's most dangerous corners.
ICBC crash statistics show 20 collisions at the corner from 2008 through 2012. Twenty-three other corners on the Westside had higher accident rates.
Rita Milne, president of the Lakeview Heights Community Association, said prohibiting left turns from Grizzly onto the highway makes sense.
"Traffic moves so fast along the highway," she said. "It's dangerous to have people pulling out from side roads."
Once the work is complete in early fall, vehicles travelling along the highway will still be able to make right and left turns onto Grizzly.