EDITORIAL – The perfect way to waste money – Summit pedestrian overpass
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF THE BRAIN TRUST at City Hall sat down to think of the perfect way to waste several million dollars, it couldn’t come up with anything better than the Summit Drive pedestrian and bicycle overpass.
And City council has bought into it. During this week’s committee of the whole meeting, the council was presented with a list of ideas for what to do with roughly $15.7 million dollars, the Kamloops share of the Growing Communities Fund created from the massive provincial surplus.
So City staff generated a handsome list of spending options.
Tucked into the list was the overpass, with a price tag of $5 million. That’s half the cost — Thompson Rivers University is to come up with the other half.
The overpass will span Summit Drive from College Heights to the campus. It began as a proposal to keep students safe on their way to class. Daily, they take their lives in their hands running across the four-lane Summit connector, dodging traffic in their pursuit of higher education.
But it’s entirely unnecessary. Just a very short walk away is a perfectly good crosswalk at the intersection of Summit and McGill, which provides access to the main entrance of the university.
The entirety of the foot traffic could be diverted there with the installation of a fence in the middle of Summit for the stretch of road that’s problematic. It was estimated at one point to cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars; with inflation, let’s say half a million for a really nice one.
For reasons unknown, that option has never been taken seriously. In order to get around the obvious logic of it, staff came up with the notion of making it part of the city’s expansion of active transportation.
Bikes were added to pedestrians and now it’s defined as a “key linkage in the City’s Active Transportation Plan.”
Balderdash. It’s shameful, and everyone connected to it should be embarrassed.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a visit to Toronto last year we noted that downtown campus of U of T. with about 60,000 students has no overhead crossing for students on very busy city streets. They seemed quite capable of crossing to & from campus at designated crosswalks.
I also like the idea of an overpass, particularly for cyclists but is it really necessary for a few hundred people who live on the east side of Summit? I don’t think a cost benefit analysis would agree that this is currently a $10 million problem or $5million on the city’s part. If TRU have plans for housing 1,000 plus students/employees in this area then that’s a different long term discussion which may warrant this investment.
Nothing says ‘Siberian mining town’ like a fence down the middle of the road and it would be circumvented by pedestrians in the first week. Further, the touted intersection is actually quite dangerous, with two people that I know hit by a car there (they were on a ‘walk’) and one other killed at the adjacent intersection. Aside from the overpass, these intersections need more work to improve safety. The overpass itself is desperately needed for pedestrians coming from Dalgleish and the feeder residential streets and to begin to connect the disjointed active transportation network. We see this happening in other communities in the southern interior and if we are to have any chance in competing for new professionals/doctors we have to have livable infrastructure. Equivalent money is spent on roadwork annually.
I totally agree. This has been an issue for 25+ years, and could easily be solved with the barrier on the meridian.
I totally agree. “There are no 🚂 🚂 on Summit”
Our very wise psychology professor told our class: “ The shortest distance between two points – follow a student.” You can build it but they will not come. Students will still dash across Summit to get to class on time. They will not walk to the overpass and climb up and over. They would use it – like pedestrians do on 3rd avenue – if there was a 🚂 on Summit.
Build a fence now!!!
PS We have a sign for 🦌 crossing to keep them safe. Why not one for Student Crossing 🏃🏻♀️ 🏃♂️ 🏃.
Further to my comment, a fence or wall, if it is built, should be erected on the divider on Summit.
That’s my thinking as well.
Fully agree with your analysis. If we are trying to “protect” students crossing 4 lanes of traffic on their way to higher education then they should not be going to TRU – they need more help then a walkway. Kids are taught to cross safely at crosswalks when they start school in kindergarten. If TRU is to come up with the other half of funding – why wouldn’t TRU invest in student housing instead of trying to assist the unmotivated to cross safely. Shameful is correct. You can also pretty much assume the final costs will be $1- 2 million over what is budgeted and a year late in completion! Finally it is not “free” money, government funds come out of the same bank – the taxpayer!
Well, it’s good that they’re doing something for pedestrians but with that price tag, the bridge will be gold-plated I guess. If you are going to fight climate change by making cities more walkable and bike friendly, you’ve got to find cheaper, innovative ways to spend money. A pedestrian/bike path up to the crosswalk would suffice. If TRU is primarily worried about students crossing Summit, a decent fence (or maybe a wall with some barbed wire) would go a long way and is a whole lot cheaper.
I wish this idiotic idea would go away once and for all. Perhaps the brain trust at TRU will have more sense than the City and say No to their $5,000,000 share of this total waste of money. From a provincial perspective, how about an actual cancer treatment centre in Kamloops, promised for over 30 years? Could it be for purely political reasons, because we continue to elect BC United MLA’s? Would/could politicians actually be THAT petty with people’s lives? I think we already know that answer. From a city perspective, how about restoring crumbling infrastructure? Driven around our City lately without having your teeth jarred loose? Me neither. It would be good if this provincial government stopped acting like Santa Claus with their magical “Communities Growth Fund” money that apparently fell from the sky with the past winter’s snow. There is no such thing as government money. It was our money to start with, and you collected far too much of it. Now we’re supposed to be grateful and have some kind of big spendy party because you’re giving us back our own money? I don’t think so. I’ll take lower taxes, thanks, starting with the formerly revenue-neutral, now cash-cow carbon tax.
Just explain why in 16 years of “united liberals”, with all kind of ministers with prestigious portfolios we never got a cancer centre built either. But we got an expensive Olympiad and an expensive conference centre just to name a couple of very high priced items.
We’re talking about NDP provincial governments here that have been promising a cancer clinic since 1991, and have welshed on that promise at every opportunity. BC Liberals/BC United are not blameless, but the the big-talking NDP have repeatedly shuffled that particular issue to the bottom of the pile while shoveling money at other issues. Can anybody tell me how a vacant claptrap apartment building in North Kamloops is worth $12.8 million? Incredible what they can find money for when the mood strikes them.
…with all kind of local ministers with prestigious portfolios” that is…
I’m with you on this one, Mel.
Also, I’m trying to grasp what is going to happen with snow and ice build-up during the winter (unless the walkway is covered or enclosed). Will it be up to City staff to take care of snow removal and where will it be put? Maybe just toss it onto the roadway below……..
Depending upon the students to do it seems unlikely if the effort isn’t taken to walk to the intersection to cross with the traffic lights.
I hear you Mr. MR and a part of me agrees with you. However I am a cyclist not only for fitness but as a commuter, hence I will state without hesitation that overpasses are great. Let’s make sure it goes for competitive bid and without any pointless landscaping embellishments, just a functional and easily maintainable pathway.