Summerland, British Columbia – A new four-lane portion of Highway 97 has opened in British Columbia, helping to meet the needs of one of the fastest-growing regions in the province.

The portion from Bentley Road to Okanagan Lake Park creates a 35-kilometre stretch of continuous four-lane highway from Penticton to Greata Ranch, just south of Peachland.

“We’re improving Highway 97 right through the Okanagan Valley to meet the needs of one of the fastest-growing regions of the province,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond. “By upgrading this stretch of Highway 97 to four lanes, we’ve created a safer route for residents, visitors and for commercial traffic in the Okanagan. I want to say a very special thank you to everyone who worked so hard to complete this significant project. Without the skill and expertise of hundreds of workers, this project would not have been possible.”

The project involved widening a seven-kilometre stretch of the highway to four lanes and constructing three kilometres of frontage roads to consolidate local access. The project faced a significant challenge in October 2008 when a large fissure was discovered on a rock slope above the highway just north of Summerland. The highway was closed for 19 days while the site was stabilized and approximately 55,000 cubic metres of rock blasted from the site.

The project is one of 23 active projects in Okanagan Valley, valued at over $320 million with expected completion by the end of 2012.

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