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Cook Street shutdown irks commuters, locals enjoy traffic reprieve
If commuters who rely on upper Cook Street between Quadra Street and Maplewood Road haven’t found an alternate route by now, they might want to consider it, as a complete overhaul of the roadway is underway until the spring.
“It is a learning process for everybody,” said Stuart Brundrige, president of Brunnell Contracting Ltd., at the helm of the $4.8-million project, approved in July and started Aug. 25.
“Traffic, bicyclists, pedestrians all have a way they’ve gone to work or wherever and we just need to change that,” Brundrige said.
All through traffic will halt as upgrades above and below ground are completed.
The project, part of Saanich’s complete streets plan, includes 870 metres of widened sidewalks, multiple corner ramps, raised bike lanes, improved stormwater management and landscaped boulevards with the addition of 56 trees, many of which will be Garry oaks.
Neighbours seem to be of two minds: those who use the front of their property for parking aren’t happy to lose the space with the installation of the concrete sidewalks and raised bike lanes; and those who are pleased to see the loss of street parking, which was often used by Thrifty Foods employees and obstructed views for motorists exiting driveways onto Cook.
Constant potholes and inadequate street lighting are the two gripes Marilyn Blanks, resident in the 3200-block of Cook St., would like to see addressed with the upgrades, both improvements worth the inconvenience of the large-scale project in her front yard.
“Well, if they’re going to do construction, there’s going to be a lot of mess,” she said.
“You’ve got to break eggs to make the omelet. I know there’s going to be work that will affect us, noise and probably dirt and dust, but it’s one of those things that you have to put up with if you want something repaired.”
Blanks’ husband Rick is also welcoming the work, not just for the long-term esthetic gains, but the benefits of temporarily clotting the main traffic artery on which they live.
“I can’t event get across the road sometimes, with all the cars backing up from the lights,” he said.
“I’ve lived on such a busy street for nearly 25 years. ... Normally this time of day, there would be a constant stream of traffic. That really is nice. I wish it would stay like that, but I know it won’t.”
The unit-price contract for the work is funded through Saanich’s Transportation, Drainage, Sewer and Water budgets.