British Columbia Highway 97C
|Length:||224 km (139 mi)|
|Existed:||1990 – present|
|East end:||BC 97 north of Peachland|
| BC 5A near Aspen Grove
BC 5 / BC 8 in Merritt
BC 97D near Logan Lake
BC 1 near Ashcroft
|North end:||BC 1 / BC 97 in Cache Creek|
Highway 97C is an east-west highway, forming part of an important link between the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan Valley south of Kelowna, which is the third largest metropolitan area in the province. It bisects the Coquihalla Highway at Merritt. The expressway and freeway sections of the highway is known as Okanagan Connector or Coquihalla Connector. The section of Highway 97C is a core route of the National Highway System between Highway 97 and the Coquihalla Highway.
Highway 97C is a relatively new route, commissioned on October 1, 1990, which is 224 km (139 mi) in total length, and was constructed as the third phase of the Coquihalla Highway Project. Construction was completed in 1990, with the cost totalling to $225 million in 1987 dollars ($373 million inflation adjusted 2009 dollars).
The route begins near Peachland, at a location on Highway 97 known as Drought Hill. The section of Highway 97C east of Merritt is 4 to 6 lanes expressway with a speed limit of 110 km/h (70 mph) and the section east of Aspen Grove is freeway with a speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph). Expressway and freeway sections have very few exits along its route. Its highest altitude is the Pennask Summit, 1,728 m (5,669 ft) above sea level. Highway 97C travels on this freeway 82 km (51 mi) northwest to Aspen Grove, where it converges with Highway 5A. This stretch is a four-lane rural arterial highway. Highways 97C and 5A share the 24 km (15 mi) long route between Aspen Grove and the Coquihalla Highway at Meritt, where Highway 5A continues northeast and Highway 8 begins.
Highway 97C was originally intended to have a freeway connection with the Coquihalla Highway approximately 30 km (19 mi) south of Merritt, near Exit 256; however due to protest by local residents in Merritt on the grounds that it would take tourists away from the area, the project was postponed and the freeway remains incomplete to this day. In July 2007, the shared roadway of Highway 5A and 97C was upgraded to a 2-lane road in each direction, the last segment required to enable 2 lanes in each direction when traveling between Vancouver and Kelowna.
Highways 97C and 8 travel along Nicola Avenue through Merritt and share a 9 km (5.6 mi) concurrency to Lower Nicola, where Highway 8 continues west to Spences Bridge and Highway 97C diverges north. Highway 97C goes north for 42 km (26 mi) to Logan Lake, then northwest for 57 km (35 mi) to Ashcroft on the Canadian National Railway. Highway 97C then travels 6 km (4 mi) west from Ashcroft to where it converges with Highway 1, which takes Highway 97C north for its final 5 km (3 mi) to its end at Highway 97 in Cache Creek.
This table lists the exits on Route 97C from east to west.
|Central Okanagan||Peachland||0.00||0.00||BC 97 (Okanagan Highway) – Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, Osoyoos||Drought Hill interchange
|||6.14||3.82||Trepanier Road||Partial access (westbound exit, eastbound entrance)|
|||22.68||14.09||Brenda Mine Road|
|↑ / ↓||||33.02||20.52||Pennask Summit – el. 1,728 m (5,669 ft)|
|Thompson-Nicola||||42.92||26.67||Sunset Main Road|
|Thompson-Nicola||||67.40||41.88||Loon Lake Road|
|Aspen Grove||82.33||51.16||Freeway ends|
|BC 5A south – Princeton||At-grade
East end of BC 5A concurrency.
|Merritt||105.87||65.78||BC 5 (Coquihalla Highway) – Kamloops, Hope, Vancouver||Coldwater interchange (BC 5 Exit 286)
West end of BC 5A concurrency.
East end of BC 8 concurrency.
|Four lane highway ends|
|110.02||68.36||To BC 5A north / Voght Street||Former west end of BC 5A concurrency.|
|Lower Nicola||114.88||71.38||BC 8 west (Nicola Highway) – Spences Bridge||BC 97C branches north.
West end of BC 8 concurrency.
|Logan Lake||156.88||97.48||BC 97D east / Tunkwa Lake Road – Logan Lake, Kamloops||BC 97C branches west.|
|Ashcroft||214.14||133.06||Ashcroft Bridge across Thompson River|
|||220.30||136.89||BC 1 south (Trans-Canada Highway) – Lytton, Hope, Vancouver||BC 97C branches north
South end of BC 1 concurrency.
|Cache Creek||224.48||139.49||BC 1 east / BC 97 south – Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Calgary||Northern terminus|
|Continues as BC 97 north (Cariboo Highway) to BC 99 south – Lillooet, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Prince George|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. "Frontier to Freeway - A Short Illustrated History of Roads in British Columbia" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- McNeil, Holly (October 1990). "Coquihalla Commemorative Magazine" (PDF). Okanagan Life.
- British Columbia Road Atlas (2007 ed.). Oshawa, ON: MapArt Publishing Corp. pp. 57, 58, 69, 70.
- Nicol, Matthew; Horel, Steve (July 2015). "Landmark Kilometre Inventory" (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Cypher Consulting. pp. 41–42, 168, 198–199.