Could a highway bypass be Juniper's saving grace?

YOU ASKED:As a follow-up to the question about Juniper Ridge road access, perhaps more detail could be examined, and passed on.

The department of highways owns 12 hectares immediately east of Orchard Walk in Valleyview for a proposed interchange.

That would anchor the Juniper Ridge/Valleyview four-lane bypass construction proposed about 10 years ago.

From the land immediately west of the Pine Ridge Golf Course, this bypass proposed would run along the bluffs between Juniper Ridge and Valleyview, joining up with the freeway above Kamloops central.

When constructed, this bypass would solve safety issues on the Valleyview portion of the Trans Canada Highway and open up options for access to Juniper Ridge. The west end already has Highland Road and a second eastern access would be an option worth consideration.

After all, Juniper Ridge has probably doubled in population in that last 10 years and is still growing.

- Yours truly, John Skelly

OUR ANSWER:That issue goes back to the late 1990s and was somewhat controversial at the time - at least to Juniper Ridge residents.

It was all part of a plan by the Ministry of Transportation to improve the Trans Canada Highway from Cache Creek to the Alberta border.

"There were a number of bottlenecks in that corridor," said Randy Lambright, the City's community development manager, who was around during those talks. "One was in Salmon Arm and the other was the Vicars Road intersection (in Valleyview)."

Lambright says the discussion around Vicars Road involved two options. One was to expand the existing route with overpasses and flyovers and other configurations meant to ease congestion.

The other was to create a highway bypass - an "offline route" around those highway intersection bottlenecks.

That option would pull vehicles off the Trans Canada and would be cheaper to construct.

"There was a hue and cry at that point in time," recalled Lambright. "Where the Valleyview residents association said, 'Yes, we're all in favour of the bypass because it will get traffic out of our neighbourhood,' the Juniper people said, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, we're not entirely enamoured with that because it will move the highway closer to us, it will increase noise, etc.' "

In the end, the City had no choice but to include a bypass route in the official community plan for Kamloops, as that was the ministry's favoured option.

A dotted line on the plan shows the route. It goes in from the Trans Canada Highway in Valleyview (between Orchards Walk residential development and the nearby RV park) up through the bluffs in a westerly direction, intersecting with Highland Road and exiting onto the highway up closer to the Summit turnoff.

Will it ever happen?

That's a good question.

Fifteen years ago, the ministry said the project was a good 15 years away. There's been no talk of it lately, said Lambright.

Even if the bypass comes to be, it's doubtful the ministry would allow the City to connect east Juniper to it. It's also doubtful City council would approve such a costly road-building endeavour.

Here's the rub: new roads are generally paid for by the DCCs (development cost charges) from developments sprouting on either side of the road.

"If you're just cutting through the silt bluffs and there's no development to offset it - because there isn't, because technically it's too steep and there's hazards in there with the bluffs and the silt - you're now just building a road for the sake of building a road because you have the potential for an emergent type situation," said Lambright.

"So the chances of a road happening in there, and this is just my opinion, are slim and none."

That is why Lambright's department has been pursuing two emergency access roads on either side of Juniper.

Readers can read more about those access routes in the Readers' Reporter section of www.kamloopsnews.ca, under the headline "Will Juniper Ridge ever get a second road?"

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