To move more people safely in and out of Esquimalt, bike lanes may be added along Admirals Road, one of the busiest commuter routes in the township.
While the plan is still in its infancy, council agreed in principle at Monday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting to seek the maximum $2.8 million available in federal gas tax funding from the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Conceptual plans shown to council for the first time reveal changes to Admirals Road, from Lyall Street to Maplebank Road. Traffic lanes and some parking would be lost to make room for flanking bike lanes.
“I think this is actually a great proposal for that corridor down there,” Coun. Bruce McIldoon said of a notoriously narrow, curved and hilly section between Esqumalt Road and Naden. “In fact, the parking is dangerous.”
Enthusiasm for the proposal at the council table was tempered with concerns that parking reductions would impact businesses, and fewer lanes would add to congestion in the township.
“We’ll probably see it at peak times,” said Jeff Miller, Esquimalt’s director of engineering and public works.
In his staff report, Miller estimated that more than 4.6 million annual vehicle trips are made on Admirals Road, which connects several municipalities with a population of more than 300,000. Nearby, there are more than 6,500 employees at CFB Esquimalt and the Esquimalt graving dock.
Mayor Barb Desjardins, who voted against moving the proposal forward, said this highlights the need for municipalities to work together to address traffic flow between cities. Coun. Don Linge, concerned the project would mean additional costs for the township, also voted against it.
“To me that’s only looking to our border and we can’t do that,” Desjardins said.
“I think it’s a great project but I think it’s come before its time.”
It could be this fall before municipal staff hear back about the UBCM application, said Miller, adding that if funding can be secured and if the plan goes like clockwork, upgrades could begin as early as next year.
Staff say the plan includes hiring a consultant to help organize open houses before the roadway design is finalized.