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LETTER – Construction of Summit Drive overpass is much needed, long overdue

The gauntlet. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

THE IDEA OF BUILDING an overpass over Summit Drive to connect the downtown West End of Kamloops with TRU has been in City plans for 15 years or more.

The recent announcement by the City of Kamloops that they are applying for a funding grant to construct the overpass, in conjunction with TRU, is welcome news.

On Monday, Mel Rothenburger published an editorial stating that building the overpass is ridiculous and that the City should put up a fence in the median which would be cheaper and would force people to cross at the intersection of Summit and McGill. This is the wrong approach if we truly care about the safety of all road users and getting people out of their cars.

The proposed location of the overpass reflects an existing desire line; there are a large number of people who want to cross Summit in this area and many already do at great risk to their personal safety.

The large amount of existing and proposed student housing east of Summit Drive supports the need for the overpass as there are likely over 1,000 students and staff who live in this area. The overpass doesn’t just get people over the road; it takes them into the heart of campus and would shave off about 350 meters in distance between Upper College Heights and Old Main, giving people an alternative to crossing Summit at McGill.

This distance is not insignificant if you are someone who is walking. While a fence would stop people from crossing, what you are really doing is frustrating people who want to walk or ride bikes — which is the opposite of what we need to do to have a more sustainable community.

The overpass would also help to better integrate and connect TRU with the West End and downtown itself. The TRU campus is like an island in the middle of the city bounded by arterial roadways and can feel like a separate enclave. The overpass would not completely solve this issue but would provide another physical connection between TRU and the rest of the community.

The overpass could become a fundamental component of a broader active transportation network in the city that could connect Dufferin and Aberdeen through the TRU campus with the downtown.

This becomes a much more important consideration as e-bikes start to really take off in Kamloops, thereby negating the old excuses about the hills being a barrier to riding bikes here. The downtown-to-TRU campus connection becomes much more accessible for people riding e-bikes with the overpass than without.

While a fence would be a cheaper alternative, it results in the continued prioritization of motorists over people who choose to walk, ride bikes or use other modes of travel — which is the opposite of what progressive communities are doing.

It is saying to people walking that we like you enough that we don’t want you to get hurt but we don’t like you enough to actually give you something that makes your travel more convenient and enjoyable.

The overpass won’t be cheap but it is a worthy investment. It would be safer, reduce walk times, and would send another signal that our community is putting people who choose to walk, ride bikes or use other modes of travel on a more equitable level with motorists. It would build off the good work done by the City in the last 10 years to build transformative pieces of active transportation infrastructure.

As a North Shore resident, the Tranquille multi-use path was a game-changer for riding a bike downtown. I feel much the same about riding a bike to Valleyview after the interchange project was completed.

In both those cases it seemed like only a matter of time before someone was seriously injured or killed. The same can be said of the current state along Summit. The construction of this overpass is long overdue.

DYLAN HOULIHAN

About Mel Rothenburger (8893 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.

5 Comments on LETTER – Construction of Summit Drive overpass is much needed, long overdue

  1. Sean McGuinness // April 5, 2022 at 8:25 PM // Reply

    The overpass which will connect with Dalgleish Drive is in the wrong place. There will be far more people who will cross at the light (a dangerous crossing which hundreds of pedestrians take every day). The fact that the bridge originates at the far end of Old Main will not translate into a huge short-cut. It might help the well-heeled condo owners of the Reach get downtown faster on their e-bikes, and it will help the students in the East Village (conveniently owned by TRU), but it’s not going to help a lot of other people, e.g. those living south of McGill. I cross the intersection at McGill and Summit daily, ofter with crowds of people leaving TRU going in every direction. A well-placed overpass at that intersection, allowing pedestrians to move either south or east above traffic would be a godsend. As it stands, a bridge to the Superstore would probably have more utility than the proposed bridge.

    There are a lot of “islands” in Kamloops which need connecting up. But to invoke sustainability and progressiveness in the name of building a $10 million pedestrian bridge is a stretch. We don’t need yellow brick roads to link up the city, we need cost-effective solutions.

  2. An overpass is not needed. Use the cross walk close by. This is not a must have.
    If you want an overpass put a toll on…just like a bus or transit pass.
    Would like to see a business case for this.
    I see this as an election issue as there is only one tax payer either federally, provincially or municipality.
    Cooper

    • John Noakes // April 5, 2022 at 10:18 PM // Reply

      The “one taxpayer” notion has been overlooked. Regardless of the percentages kicked in by different levels of government, the bottom line is that the taxpayers are on the hook for 100% of the cost.
      Mr. Dudy came across as kind of scary in his speech announcing a run for the Mayor’s chair. I feel a rumbling of the acceptance of big ticket items such as this overpass. Watch for opening of discussions for the domed stadium.
      Necessary expenditures for road maintenance, snow removal and increased policing costs are going to have a big addition in municipal tax by the rolling out of the performing arts centre on his watch. There is no more McDonald’s downtown because of ongoing and increased violence in the downtown core. What a great place to put a performing arts centre.
       

  3. A large load of bunk … imo.

    Basically, you’re justifying the Cities expenditure of $2million, for the convenience of a few (and yes, 1000 students and staff are but a few) when balanced with user use to cost ratios.
    Let me repeat that,
    … a $2million convenience for the purposes of making the walk for an extremely minimal amount of use, more ‘enjoyable’ for that minority.

    That is a budgetary slap in the face for any tax payer.

    Then double down and try to twist it towards being some kind of anti car argument and “continued prioritisation of motorists over people who choose to walk …” wait, what?
    Because there is an overpass with a 350 metre walking savings, a whole bunch of people are going to walk to TRU that wouldn’t before?

    Then using the Tranquille multi-use path (used a dozen times a day) and Valleyviews interchange (far less than a dozen) as some kind of use case proof? Do you also tout the Peterson Creek path as a good use of funds?

    No one; the City, TRU or anyone else is trying to suggest that this Summit overpass, over a fence, will take people out of cars, simply because the suggestion to jam the two ideas together is ludicrous, false and not backed up by any kind of statistical facts.

    You are absolutely welcome to your opinion, but to suggest this cost is reasonable for these reasons is a stretch, the numbers just dont add up.

  4. Mac gordon // April 5, 2022 at 4:39 PM // Reply

    At a cost of $10 million those are some very expensive 350 metres. E-bikes are gaining in popularity with batteries getting stronger and charging stations will be more common so the E-bike argument doesn’t hold. Riding a regular bike 350 metres is an extra minute, so for riders it’s of no significance. So we’re really just talking about walkers here and the price seems too steep. I’d ask about making a tunnel underpass which would be much quicker to build and less expensive but I know city hall doesn’t appreciate less expensive creative ideas. Yes it would be a nice luxury but we have real needs which are foremost.

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