John Sturdy

Governments commit to McKenzie interchange project

Relief for Colwood Crawl expected within three years

Saanich is now in a wait-and-see game as provincial and federal governments combined for the long-overdue announcement to fund a new Admirals-McKenzie Interchange at the Trans-Canada Highway intersection with Admirals Road and McKenzie Avenue.

The price tag is $85 million, with $52 million coming from B.C.’s 10-year On The Move plan and nearly $33 million from the federal government’s New Building Canada Fund infrastructure budget.

“Construction will be underway likely within a year and the improvements should be realized by the folks who live here a couple of years after that,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone.

The concept for the interchange goes back nearly 30 years. It had momentum that stalled in 1995 when Saanich’s concerns over the welfare of Cuthbert Holmes Park, among other things, helped cast it aside.

Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland believes Cuthbert Holmes Park won’t be a concern or setback during the consultation and planning stages for the upcoming interchange.

“I believe it comes back to [including] pedestrian, cycling and transit with a major expansion. [Council] just like many of these things to blend in and become part of it, which is reasonable.”

The interchange will ‘uncork’ the largest bottleneck in B.C. outside of the George Massey Tunnel running between Richmond and Delta.

“There’s 90,000 vehicles coming through here per day. It’s going to be an interesting and complex project from a traffic-management perspective to ensure that traffic continues to flow,” Stone said. “We’ll take time to develop an active traffic plan that we believe will work and get people through this bottleneck during active construction.

“In B.C., our traffic analysis and detailed engineering tells us that most if not all of the issues at Tillicum are caused by the bottleneck here,” Stone said.

0Stone also confirmed the province will fund a new Westshore Parkway extension in Langford that runs 3.5 kilometres from the Trans-Canada Highway to Highway 14 (Sooke Road). That project will cost $22 million, with $7.5 million coming from each the provincial and federal governments, while Langford will cover the remainder.

Saanich Coun. Colin Plant attended the announcement curious to know how the new interchange will affect Saanich’s related traffic concern, the Wilkinson Corridor.

“Hopefully this becomes an effective means to get out of Saanich,” Plant said. “If not, I think we should do something at Wilkinson regardless.”

Addressing the “Colwood Crawl” was the No. 1 concern from Island residents in the 2014 B.C. On The Move Engagement from Greater Victoria all the way up to Campbell River, Stone said.

Mayor Atwell visited Stone earlier in the year and had a rough idea the announcement was coming and of the cost (none of it to Saanich), but wasn’t sure until Wednesday.

Atwell is also interested in how the interchange can alleviate the congestion along Wilkinson.

Saanich has been waiting to see what is going to happen here at Admirals-McKenzie

before making any decision, Atwell said.

“At a basic level, this intersection has been the reason for the traffic coming down Wilkinson-Interurban. Drivers treat [the latter] as a bypass, which it was never intended to be.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

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