Okanagan Lake Bridge
|Kelowna Floating Bridge|
|Official name||Okanagan Lake Bridge|
|Carries||3 reversible traffic lanes of Highway 97, pedestrians|
|Maintained by||BC Ministry of Transportation|
|Design||Pontoon bridge, Vertical lift bridge|
|Total length||650 m (2,100 feet)|
|Opened||July 19, 1958|
|Closed||May 31, 2008|
The Okanagan Lake Bridge (also known as the Kelowna Floating Bridge) was a three-lane, 650 metre (2,100 feet) long floating bridge in British Columbia, Canada. It crossed Okanagan Lake, connecting the Westside area to Kelowna on the lake's eastern side. Taller boats such as sailboats were able to pass under the lift span which was located at the east end of the bridge. Completed in 1958, the bridge was the first of its kind in Canada. The bridge was partially funded through tolls, which were collected from its opening until April 1, 1963.
Originally the bridge only had 2 lanes, (1 in each direction), but in 1984 the bridge deck was reconfigured and a third lane was added. This new lane became a counter-flow lane, and would allow the lanes to adjust to traffic demand at different times of the day. In 1991 the bridge underwent major electrical repairs and a breakwater was removed.
The bridge served as an important regional transportation link in the Okanagan Valley, joining the southward section of Highway 97 on the west side of the lake to the northward section on the east side, and connecting Westbank and other southern points to Lake Country and other northern points.
The floating bridge was replaced as it outlived its usefulness and was incapable of supporting the traffic levels. The construction of the new replacement bridge—the William R. Bennett Bridge—began in 2005 and was completed in 2008. The new bridge opened on May 25, 2008, and the old bridge closed May 31, 2008. It was decommissioned in 2009. SNC-Lavlin is the company in charge of construction and maintenance for of the William R. Bennett Bridge for the next 30 years.
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