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BEPPLE – What’s in a name – The ABCs (and Ds) of B.C.’s epic Highway 97

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

AFTER YEARS OF DRIVING B.C. highways, I can still not tell you which is Highway 97, versus Highway 97A, or 97B, not to mention Highway 97C or 97D.

The truth be told, if I’m driving from Sicamous to Enderby, or from Salmon Arm to Enderby, I can’t tell you which 97 I’m driving on.  Or whether the highway from Logan Lake to the Coquihalla Highway is 97C or 97D.

Highway 97 starts at the U.S. border at Osoyoos, then passes through Peachland, Vernon, Kamloops, and Cache Creek.  It heads north through the Cariboo, all the way to Prince George, before heading over to Chetwynd.  It passes through Dawson Creek, and Fort Nelson, before ending at the Yukon border. Highway 97 traverses the entire province from south to north.

From the start to the finish, it traverses 2,081 km.  It’s the longest provincial highway in Canada. Highway 97 is an epic highway.

Driving from Osoyoos to the Yukon border is equivalent to driving from Vancouver to Winnipeg.

Which makes me wonder why we can’t have other names for Highway 97A, 97B, 97C and 97D. Highway 97 is a long and spectacular highway that epitomizes B.C.  Why do we downgrade Highway 97 by having the piddly, short sections called 97A, B, C and D.

Highway 97 is deserving of its own number.  Highway 97 shouldn’t have to share its number.

Drivers are deserving of better numbered highways, too.

Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.  I’m sure other people have just as much trouble differentiating between the different 97 highways.  I can’t be the only person that can’t remember which highway goes with the A, and which with the B.

If anyone asked how to go from Kamloops to Vernon, or Spences Bridge to Merritt, I wouldn’t be able to tell them what the highway number was.

Full marks to anyone who knows all the Highway 97 numbers.  I’m not one of them.

There is Highway 97A, which goes from Vernon to Sicamous.  Highway 97B is from Grindrod, just north of Enderby to Salmon Arm. Highway 97C includes the Okanagan Connector, from Peachland to Merritt, as well as the leg from Merritt to Cache Creek via Ashcroft.  Highway 97D goes from Logan Lake down to Highway 5 at the Lac La Jeune exit.

What’s the point of giving highways numbers like 97A or 97C if no one can remember them? What’s the point of having highway numbers that people can’t readily identify?

Despite B.C.’s large size, there are very few numbered highways. There are lots of highway numbers available. There are no highways numbered from 53 to 76, or from 78 to 90. There’s 25, 92, 94 and 96 as well. There is no need to have highways named 97A, 97B, 97C or 97D.

Maybe there is something magical about the number 97.  Even when a new highway is built, like when the Okanagan Connector was opened, it was given the number 97D.  If people are committed to having 97 in their highway names, then rename Highway 97A to Highway 971 and so on.

It’s time to stop the silliness of having multiple highways with the same number.

Here’s to clarity. Here’s to reserving the name Highway 97 for the longest provincial highway in Canada.

Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6879 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on BEPPLE – What’s in a name – The ABCs (and Ds) of B.C.’s epic Highway 97

  1. R A George // June 26, 2019 at 8:36 PM // Reply

    It confuses everybody.Can,t imagine what the tourists make of it.

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