The city is hoping a pair of projects up for federal grant funding will pave way for improved cycling infrastructure in Kamloops.
A separated bike lane, the first of its kind in the city, may be built downtown on Sixth Avenue as early as this year, following a decision by city council on Tuesday.
In addition, the city’s planned Summit Drive multi-use pathway may also see a bump in its anticipated timeline. The city is applying for $4 million worth of COVID-19 infrastructure funding to push ahead the active transportation projects in Sahali and downtown. If approved, the city says construction would begin this spring.
On Tuesday, city council approved an application by staff to apply for federal dollars to build a $2.5-million, 850-metre-long, three-metre-wide separated multi-use pathway, with lighting and traffic signal installation connecting Summit Drive at Whiteshield Crescent to the Xget’tem’ Trail at Notre Dame Drive in Sahali.
In addition, the city also wants to increase connectivity below Xget’tem’ Trail by building a $1.5-million, 560-metre separated bike lane along Sixth Avenue downtown.
The city says the funding, if approved, would cover 100 per cent of the costs. Both of the connections — dubbed the “Summit-downtown connection project” — would help to establish a North-South cycling route from Westsyde and Batchelor Heights to Aberdeen. Future spinoff projects plan to connect Batchelor Heights to Westmount elementary in Westsyde and to the Sagebrush neighbourhood.
The Sixth Avenue bike lane would be a fully protected two-way bike lane on the east side of the street, designed for all ages and abilities.
Council heard the city previously considered the project for Fifth Avenue.
However, Sixth Avenue was determined to make more sense because it is four lanes.
As a result of the project, Sixth Avenue will be redesigned and vehicular traffic will be reduced to two lanes, with dedicated left-turn lanes at Columbia Street, Victoria Street and Lansdowne Street.
City staff also noted Sixth Avenue connects better to the Lansdowne Street bus exchange.
Council voted unanimously in favour of applying for the grant funds. Coun. Arjun Singh was away on city business.
Multiple councillors expressed “excitement” over the projects and hope that the grant funding would come to fruition.
Some concerns included: reducing Sixth Avenue to two lanes, with potential backup of traffic on Columbia Street. Coun. Mike O’Reilly noted schools in the Sagebrush neighbourhood leads to a busy Sixth Avenue. In addition, Coun. Kathy Sinclair questioned forcing cyclists to dismount from bicycles with the planned Summit Drive route. City staff, however, said that traffic optimization would occur and that the routes were designed with the majority of people in mind and chosen to improve safety.