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British Columbia Highway 97C

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Highway 97C marker

Highway 97C

Okanagan Connector
Coquihalla Connector
Highway 97C highlighted in red.
Route information
Maintained by British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Length224 km (139 mi)
Major junctions
East end Hwy 97 north of Peachland
Major intersections Hwy 5A near Aspen Grove
Hwy 5 (YH) / Hwy 8 in Merritt
Hwy 97D near Logan Lake
Hwy 1 (TCH) near Ashcroft
North end Hwy 1 (TCH) / Hwy 97 in Cache Creek
ProvinceBritish Columbia
Regional districtsPeachland, Logan Lake
Major citiesMerritt
VillagesAshcroft, Cache Creek
Highway system
Hwy 97B Hwy 97D

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 between Highway 5 and Highway 97 is a core route of the National Highway System.

Route description[edit]

Highway 97C begins near Peachland, at a trumpet interchange on Highway 97 known as Drought Hill. The section of Highway 97C east of Merritt is an expressway ranging between 4 and 6 lanes, with a speed limit of 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph). The section east of Aspen Grove is a freeway with a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph). The road was formerly an expressway with a speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph). As of more recently, speed limits have been lowered in an effort to combat accidents along the highway. [1][2] Freeway sections along the highway 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 kilometres (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.

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 (3.7 mi) west from Ashcroft to where it converges with Highway 1, which takes Highway 97C north for its final 5 km (3.1 mi) to its end at Highway 97 in Cache Creek.


Okanagan Lake from Highway 97C near Trepanier

Highway 97C was opened to traffic on October 1, 1990, and was constructed as the third phase of the Coquihalla Highway Project.[3] It cost $225 million to construct (equivalent to $516 million in 2023 dollars).[4][5][6]

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;[7] 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 two-lane road in each direction, the last segment required to enable two lanes in each direction when travelling between Vancouver and Kelowna. The upgrade was completed on July 24.[8]

When it was constructed, initial proposals had it designated as Highway 8; however, communities on the route preferred it designated as an auxiliary route of Highway 97, hence its Highway 97C designation.[9]

Major intersections[edit]

This table lists the exits on Route 97C from east to west.[10] All exits are unnumbered.

Regional DistrictLocationkm[11]miDestinationsNotes
Central OkanaganPeachland0.000.00 Hwy 97 (Okanagan Highway) – Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, OsoyoosDrought Hill interchange; eastern terminus
6.143.82Trepanier RoadInterchange; westbound exit, eastbound entrance
22.6814.09Brenda Mine RoadInterchange
↑ / ↓33.0220.52Pennask Summit – el. 1,728 m (5,669 ft)
Thompson-Nicola42.9226.67Sunset Main RoadInterchange
Okanagan-Similkameen54.7634.03Elkhart RoadInterchange
Thompson-Nicola67.4041.88Loon Lake RoadInterchange; rest area (opened 2018)[12]
82.3351.16Freeway ends
Hwy 5A south – PrincetonAt-grade; east end of Hwy 5A concurrency
Merritt105.8765.78 Hwy 5 (Coquihalla Highway) – Kamloops, VancouverColdwater interchange (Hwy 5 exit 286)
West end of Hwy 5A concurrency; east end of Hwy 8 concurrency
110.0268.36 To Hwy 5A north / Voght StreetFormer west end of Hwy 5A concurrency
Lower Nicola114.8871.38 Hwy 8 west (Nicola Highway) – Spences BridgeHwy 97C branches north; west end of Hwy 8 concurrency
Logan Lake156.8897.48 Hwy 97D east – Logan Lake, KamloopsHwy 97C branches west
Ashcroft214.14133.06Ashcroft Bridge across Thompson River
214.31133.17Cornwall Road (Hwy 926:0901 south) to Hwy 1 – Spences BridgeHwy 97C branches north
220.30136.89 Hwy 1 (TCH) west – Hope, VancouverHwy 97C branches north; south end of Hwy 1 concurrency
Cache Creek224.48139.49 Hwy 1 (TCH) east / Hwy 97 south – Kamloops
Hwy 97 north (Cariboo Highway) to Hwy 99 – Lillooet, Prince George
Northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/reports-and-reference/reports-and-studies/planning-strategy-economy/speed-review/rural_hwy_safety_speed_review_post-implementation_update.pdf
  2. ^ https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/speed-limit-bc-highways-reduced-1.4893914
  3. ^ Whitfield, Dave (October 3, 1990). "Highway open!". The Morning Star. p. 1. Retrieved February 18, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ 1688 to 1923: Geloso, Vincent, A Price Index for Canada, 1688 to 1850 (December 6, 2016). Afterwards, Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada tables 18-10-0005-01 (formerly CANSIM 326-0021) "Consumer Price Index, annual average, not seasonally adjusted". Statistics Canada. Retrieved April 17, 2021. and table 18-10-0004-13 "Consumer Price Index by product group, monthly, percentage change, not seasonally adjusted, Canada, provinces, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqaluit". Statistics Canada. Retrieved May 8, 2024.
  5. ^ B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. "Frontier to Freeway - A Short Illustrated History of Roads in British Columbia" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
  6. ^ British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways (1992). Minister of Transportation and Highways Report for the Fiscal Year 1990/91. Victoria: Government of British Columbia. ISSN 1180-5315. |url=https://portal.issn.org/resource/ISSN/1180-5315#
  7. ^ McNeil, Holly (October 1990). "Coquihalla Commemorative Magazine" (PDF). Okanagan Life.
  8. ^ Ministry of Transportation (July 24, 2007). "Four-lane project completes Coquihalla Highway system". Victoria. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  9. ^ "The Story of the Highway 97 Alphabet". TranBC | Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Government of British Columbia. August 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  10. ^ British Columbia Road Atlas (2007 ed.). Oshawa, ON: MapArt Publishing Corp. pp. 57, 58, 69, 70.
  11. ^ Landmark Kilometre Inventory (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Report). Cypher Consulting. July 2016. pp. 172–173, 202–203, 504–512. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 11, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  12. ^ Province of British Columbia: Loon Lake Rest Area, Press Release, February 7, 2018. Accessed September 12, 2018.

External links[edit]