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BEPPLE – Summit connector needs to become a street, not a highway

(Image: Mel Rothenburger file photo)

WE ALL KNOW the difference between a highway and a street.  A highway is a main road, where vehicles are able to move at high speeds.  There are often multiple lanes.  A highway is built for vehicles.

A street is a road with buildings on either side, often with sidewalks.  Streets have bus stops.  A street is a place pedestrians and cyclists are safe to use. A street is built for people.

Summit Drive, from McGill Road down to the hairpin turn, then on to Victoria Street West to Mission Flats was built to be a highway.  There are no sidewalks.  There are no transit stops.  There are no bike lanes.  The posted speed is 60 km/h, but drivers often go faster.

From McGill Road down to Mission Flats, the Summit Drive/Victoria Street West “highway” works great for vehicles.

This “highway” works for vehicles, but it doesn’t work for people.

When Summit Drive/Victoria Street West road was built, all there was along it was sagebrush and rabbit bush.

The problem is that now this part of the city has more and more people.  And they deserve infrastructure for people, not just for vehicles.

Guerin Creek subdivision which accesses Summit Drive has 60 houses.  And that’s not counting the hundreds more from Fernie and Hudson Bay Trail which access Summit Drive through Guerin Creek.

Hudson’s Ridge subdivision, accessed at the hairpin turn, will have 100 or more houses when it is built out.

Further down, there are apartments on Victoria Street West.

And at the bottom of the hill, just off Victoria Street West, 55 people live on Mission Flats Road in supported housing.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people along Summit Drive/Victoria Street West with no sidewalks, no transit stops, and no bicycle lanes.

There’s a website, http://www.walkscore.com, which rates the walkability of neighbourhoods. Guerin Creek is 35 out of 100.  Hudson’s Ridge Blvd, just a stone’s throw from Thompson Rivers University, has a walkability of 4 out of 100.  Mission Flats, where few if any of the residents have vehicles, has a walkability score of 0.

That doesn’t mean people don’t walk.  It just means that when they walk, it’s dangerous. Just this week I heard about some near misses of people walking along the edge of Summit Drive.

The Number 10 North Shore TRU Express bus goes up and down the Summit Drive/Victoria Street West route.  There are no bus stops from the south end of Tranquille Road to when the bus reaches McGill Road near Concordia Way.  This is a great bus route that gives direct access to north shore shopping and the university, and goes to two of the three city bus exchanges.

The bus goes directly by hundreds of people’s homes along this “highway” with no stops.

The Summit Drive/Victoria Street West corridor does a great job as a highway. But it does a lousy job of serving the neighborhoods along it.  These are some of the closest neighborhoods to Sahali shopping and Thompson Rivers University.  These people are minutes away from the North Shore as well.  But without a vehicle, they might as well all live on Mars if they want to get out of their neighborhoods.

Shouldn’t areas closest to one of the largest employers in our city, like Thompson Rivers University, have better walking, transit and cycling options?

Streets, not highways, are what people in these neighborhoods need.  Streets with safe walking, bus service and cycling routes.

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

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About Mel Rothenburger (6934 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.

7 Comments on BEPPLE – Summit connector needs to become a street, not a highway

  1. There,s a speed limit?? Money? What money? How about all those Spring potholes eh??

  2. Heather Bepple // September 18, 2019 at 10:48 PM // Reply

    Good points. Also the section of McGill Road west of Hillside Drive towards the Summit connector has no crosswalks.

  3. The Summit Connector, including the Singh Street Bridge, was originally part of a future ring road for Kamloops decades ago. Many plans have been scrapped since and this is what we have left over. Portable bus stops could be tried to see if any use would happen and if popular they could be made into bus pull-out spaces so traffic keeps moving.
    Notice how unique our route to the city yard at the top of the hill is, with a sidewalk on the scenic view (north) side containing trees planted in full sidewalk width squares making it difficult to walk and impassable for those with scooters or power-chairs. Or is this a divider for a future four lane “street / highway” on the hill. Hmmm…

  4. Beverley Thies Campbell // September 18, 2019 at 10:16 AM // Reply

    Have to agree with most of this article, I often shudder when I see students trying to cross over to the Uni side of the road.

  5. Couldn’t agree more with Nancy Bepple’s article. The subdivision neighborhoods she describes were built for people with cars and not for people using public transit or for walking/cycling.
    Proper bus stops should be placed along this route and probably a walking/cycling path parallel to the bus route as well. This would allow residents and others to access different parts of the city in a variety of ways.

  6. Hello Westsyde Road.

    Westsyde Road has sidewalks and bus stops and crossing lights and STILL many drivers are WAY over the speed limit.

  7. The big problem throughout the city is the large amount of large commercial vehicles allowed on them. Perhaps the scattered nature of various depots is the easily identifiable reason. But what if (at least some) heavy truck traffic is routed away from (at least part of) the city? A bridge near the airport connecting to the Trans-Canada near the west side boundary of the city could help alleviate not only heavy trucks traffic but also serve as a quick way out of the North Shore as well. Money for infrastructure is available with the right lobbying.

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