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EDITORIAL – Please, let’s do away with the ridiculous Summit overpass idea

(Image: City of Kamloops)

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 mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9118 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.

11 Comments on EDITORIAL – Please, let’s do away with the ridiculous Summit overpass idea

  1. Patricia Kaatz // April 14, 2022 at 11:03 AM // Reply

    My understanding is the proposed overpass would be constructed to save students approximately 200 ft. of extra walking to a properly controlled intersection and crosswalk.

    With the growing population Kamloops City Council could possibly use the money for projects that would benefit more citizens.

    Several that come to mind would be an out door rink similar to those built in Kelowna & Penticton., renovating and upgrading downtown curling club, or more sidewalks that are lacking all over the city.
    I would agree with Rothenburger: ” a ridiculous project and total waste of money “.

  2. Build a fence. It is truly silly to build an overpass for a few who don’t wish to use a functioning cross walk with lights.
    If you want to spend monies use to pay for snow removal to get rid of the snow windrow in from in front of driveway.
    Enough.
    Cooper

  3. Rob Higgins // April 4, 2022 at 2:05 PM // Reply

    The overpass is truly needed.
    1. The area is currently heavily used by pedestrians (I use it frequently, walking and cycling). The intersection touted as the legal crossing is dangerous and requires high awareness by non-motorized users. Two colleagues of mine, crossing as pedestrians on a green, were hit there a while back.
    2. Sixty percent of the carbon emissions in Kamloops comes from transportation and we will never reach our carbon goals if we don’t make it possible to use other forms of transportation (walking, cycling etc.)
    3. The current bike path that ends on Dalgleish has no actual exit, forcing pedestrians and cyclists onto unmaintained muddy/icy paths leading to the shoulder of Summit with no sidewalk and high speed traffic (slushy muddy vehicle spray). If the gate in East Village is open you can go through the parking lots but again, no sidewalks, and it is not controlled by the City. The overpass will create a clear and safe route from Dalgleish.
    4. Yes, there is a lot more housing in the immediate area and more coming so the crossing is needed. Beyond this, the crossing will be a vital safe connection that will hopefully connect with new safe paths to Sahali, Aberdeen and Dufferin in the future.
    5. Regarding the fencing option. Nothing quietly makes the statement that an area is undesirable like a fence in the middle of a roadway. When TRU put up new fencing around East Village it was cut open immediately.
    6. I do not understand why it costs $10 million but 80% is not coming from the City. Further, the City spends much more than this to accommodate single occupant cars even though the City Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is supposed to give the these the lowest priority. Pedestrians and cyclists are supposed to be at the top (see 2.3 of the TMP).

    • Tom Rankin // April 4, 2022 at 3:32 PM // Reply

      Interesting points, Rob. My only comment is regarding the fence that was cut. I suspect standing in the middle of Summit Drive will be an entirely different challenge to fence-cutters, one which they will not venture to try. I’ll wait to see what others say on the rest of this issue.

  4. Tom Rankin // April 4, 2022 at 11:18 AM // Reply

    I’m a cyclist and relish the idea of safer streets all over Kamloops. However, I’m a long way from convinced that this overpass is a good idea. How much cheaper would it be to (1) install the fence in the middle, and (2) look at some upgrades to the Summit/McGill intersection? Also, we need upgrades from Columbia across to Summit, too. It’s dangerous past the school bus yard; I’d rather see money spent there first and let the students do a little more walking. By the way, all through high school and university in Edmonton, I walked to/from school from Sept. to April. It’s not hard. You just dress for the weather and watch the clock. From the controversy generated, this item obviously needs a lot more community conversation.

  5. Sean McGuinness // April 4, 2022 at 9:26 AM // Reply

    Well, you could probably build a tunnel for half the price, but tunnels aren’t sexy. Knowing TRU’s administration, I would guess that their main motivation is not about building a pedestrian bridge for students; it’s about The Reach. This bridge would not be of much use to the vast majority of people but it would look great in brochures.

  6. Finally some common sense re the cycle/pedestrian overpass! Just put a fence up….millions of $ saved. Somebody with influence should have stepped in and cancelled the ridiculous idea of extending the Peterson Creek Trail up to McGowan Park Elementary and millions could have been saved. Take the money saved and install sidewalks in North Kamloops…if only on one side of the street. For many seniors living on the ‘poor side’ of Kamloops they are house bound during winter.

  7. Your fence suggestion has been in place on Tranquille Road by NorKam Secondary and Fitzwater School for decades, controlling and protecting both pedestrians and motorists from each other, eminently sensible

  8. Ken McClelland // April 4, 2022 at 8:11 AM // Reply

    Thank-you!

  9. John Noakes // April 4, 2022 at 7:02 AM // Reply

    Young and able bodied folks should abide by traffic laws, walk a bit and use the lights. The exercise will do you good.
    At 67 years old, I look forward to 6Km walking distance every day with our dog.
    End of discussion on this silly way of blowing money. Time for a big change at the horse shoe table and management as well. Maybe a new Mayor who can apply some sanity and common sense to the position.

  10. As an avid cyclist and bike commuter I welcome, despite the cost, the overpass idea. However I would also be willing to compromise with a fence only if the crossings of Summit Drive (at Hillside and McGill) would get refurbished to much higher standards for safe crossing. I would also welcome a much increased police presence on our street to smack all kind of drivers with hefty fines for the ongoing danger of speeding, running red lights and being distracted by their personal communication devices while hiding behind heavy tinted windows (that’s the increasingly common latest fad among the road imbeciles). For sure I would vote for any council hopeful with a true resolve to make Kamloops much safer for commuting on bicycles. The current ones pretending to be on board just don’t cut it in my opinion for very many reasons. Campaign promises don’t mean a thing.

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