If possible, stay away from Gordon Drive between Springfield and KLO roads.
KLO Road between Gordon and Benvoulin is also best avoided.
And get ready for yet more roadwork in East Kelowna, including a month-long shutdown of McCulloch Road between KLO and Reekie roads.
If it seems like Kelowna’s streets are an obstacle course this summer, it’s because they are.
The most aggressive repaving, roadwork and utility upgrades schedule in recent memory has begun for a summer test of traffic slowdowns and snarls, detours and deviations.
“Definitely, the biggest repaving project of the summer is underway for the next week,” said City of Kelowna road design technologist Bruce Dacre.
“Today (Friday), Saturday and Monday, crews will be repaving Gordon from Springfield to KLO. They will do two lanes of the four-lane road at a time and two lanes will remain open. Because the project includes long stretches of busy roads and busy intersections, the impact seems magnified.”
Having two lanes open sounds reasonable and should keep the traffic moving.
However, when The Daily Courier checked the situation Thursday afternoon as paving started on the two northbound lanes of Gordon, traffic was backed up and moving at a snail’s pace between Springfield and Cameron Avenue.
To further complicate matters, the intersection of Gordon and Guisachan Road was closed to eastbound and westbound traffic.
So, motorists couldn’t turn out of the tie-up if they wanted to.
U-turns are also a no-go.
On Tuesday through Friday next week, the second phase of the giant paving project will see four-lane KLO between Gordon and Benvoulin squeezed to two for similar treatment.
Phase 3 will occur overnight July 20 and July 22 as the east and west sides of four-lane Benvoulin, complete with extra turning lanes, are repaved.
Two lanes at a time will be closed, funnelling all traffic to the other two.
“It is disruptive,” said Dacre.
“But once it’s done, all those paved surfaces will be good for another 15 years.”
The best advice for dealing with all this obstruction ranges from remaining patient and obeying signs and detours to giving the area a wide berth.
However, avoiding the area may mean encountering other roadwork that will slow you down as the city is full of construction and reconstruction projects.
Spring, summer and fall are best to get this work done while the weather is nice.
But the city usually tries to avoid the most disruptive projects during high tourist season, in mid-summer.
Yet, here we are, in high tourist season, with more slowdowns, detours and closures than you can shake a stick at.
“While roadwork can be inconvenient for travellers, the work is necessary to ensure our roads remain safe to use and to manage long-term costs,” reads the message on the section of the city’s Kelowna.ca website where the myriad repaving and city projects are listed.
“Crews do their best to schedule and co-ordinate roadwork in a way that has the least impact on neighbouring residents, commuters and visitors. Most work happens during the spring and summer seasons, as paving requires, warm, dry weather. Crews also ensure they communicate with emergency services so roads remain accessible during an emergency.”
The next major headache will be when McCulloch Road, a main East Kelowna thoroughfare, is closed for a month between KLO and Reekie roads starting Monday.
Water main installation under the road is necessary to bring Kelowna Integrated Water Project drinking water to 2,000 Southeast Kelowna households and sustainable water supplies to South Mission farms, orchards and vineyards.
Detours will be along East Kelowna, Reid, Pooley and Rose roads, and access to Hart Road will be available from Pooley Road.
Residents and businesses located in the work zone will have access to their properties.
Transit and transit routes will remain open and accessible during the work.