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Sicamous Roundabout – Taming the Octopus!


Dubbed locally as “the Octopus”, the Highway 97A / Main Street intersection forms the entrance to Sicamous, British Columbia, a tourism community with a high percentage of elderly residents, and numerous houseboat rental businesses. The original multi-leg, 45-degree skewed intersection configuration was so confusing and geometrically insufficient that local users avoided the intersection. There were no facilities for cyclists or pedestrians, resulting in significant safety concerns with students from the adjacent school crossing irregularly. The retail businesses immediately adjacent to the intersection suffered as a result.
The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) had identified a 2-lane roundabout as a preferred option for this location but had previously received adverse comment from the trucking industry (BCTA) regarding roundabouts on numbered routes, primarily due to their perceived inability to accommodate oversized loads.
The design of this roundabout therefore needed to carefully balance the safety and operational needs of all users, including oversize permit vehicles, houseboat trailers, and vulnerable users, and required acceptance from the trucking industry and public.
Extensive stakeholder and community engagement, as well as innovative design elements, produced a solution with custom aprons for specific vehicle use to better separate users; standardization of materials, colour and textures to identify intended use; a roll-over median approach island to allow counterflow operation of permit vehicles with pilot cars; and reduced cross fall on circular roadway to reduce heavy vehicle racking and roll-over potential. The design is phased for a double-lane facility ultimately. However, a single-lane was constructed initially to gain familiarity and acceptance and improve safety. Active transportation needs are accommodated by multi-use pathways, cycle paths and ramps, and tactile mats are provided for the visually impaired, making it safe for all active modes and in particular the local school children. The design also includes raingardens and native, drought-tolerant plantings, as well as unique public art features. An unintended spin-off of the project is that several adjacent properties have already been rejuvenated due to the significantly improved access.
This $7.3M project opened in November 2016 and is safely used by heavy and OS/OW permit vehicles. It has been well received by the local council, Splatsin First Nation, BCTA and MoTI. So much so that this project was awarded the 2017 BC MoTI Deputy Minister’s Award of Excellence for Design.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Roundabout Challenges in Design to Operations
Newcombe, E.
Pellam, A.
Geometric design