An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
CITY COUNCIL JUST CAN’T STOP talking about a Summit Drive overpass between Thompson Rivers University and College Heights.
And they’re talking about it again, this time as a $10-million project to take pedestrians and cyclists from student housing on one side to classrooms on the other.
The hope is that the federal government will pay $6 million of it, with the remaining $4 million split between the City and the university. It doesn’t matter who ends up paying for this ridiculous project, it will be a total waste of money.
The genesis of the overpass discussion, which goes back many years, is the need to provide safety for students who take their lives in their hands dodging traffic on Summit instead of walking a couple of hundred steps to a perfectly serviceable light-controlled crosswalk.
An obvious, economical answer is a fence down the middle of that section of Summit to prevent pedestrians from crossing where they shouldn’t. The fence idea has been around for a couple of decades and would cost pennies compared to an overpass which, by the way, was estimated at $2 million 10 years ago.
Since a fence makes too much sense, City staff have come up with other rationales for spending $10 million, such as the growth in traffic volume on Summit, the expansion of housing at the College Heights/ East Village dorm area, and “a growing interest in active transportation.”
It would, says a staff report, become “a landmark structure for those entering the Downtown or North Kamloops via Summit Drive.”
A landmark structure would be nice, if there was even an iota of a need for it. Since council appears more attracted to the possibility of federal money than to paying for the whole thing with local money, the best case scenario would be for the feds to reject any involvement. Then maybe council would build the fence and forget the overpass idea once and for all.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.