Construction is now underway with a $16.7 million contract to begin the new Admirals-McKenzie interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Surrey’s Jacob Bros. Construction are tasked with job one of the $85 million project, to relocate the Galloping Goose a few metres to the north and to build a new pedestrian bridge over McKenzie Avenue. Jacob Bros. will also install a temporary pedestrian overpass over the TCH and relocate a main waterline.
The next major construction tender will come up in 2017.
“The biggest question I get from people is ‘how long will the construction delays affect my drive,’” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone. “Crews will work mostly outside busy traffic hours and the project team will do everything to keep the delays to a minimum.”
While MOTI has said the new McKenzie Interchange will save commuters up to 22 minutes in peak traffic conditions, there will be delays which are inevitable.
“I urge commuters to use vigilance, patience and safety, and to check with DriveBC’s social media updates on the project,” Stone said.
There will also be message boards along the route warning of major upcoming delays.
Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell introduced Stone at the intersection, which falls within Saanich boundaries.
Saanich made a surprising news release of its own on Thursday, stating it had accepted an extensive compensation package from the province that includes $450,000 in funding.
The package is part of Saanich’s declaration it will work closely with the province to ‘mitigate’ the damaging effects of the interchange. The buffer of the partial cloverleaf of the intersection will encroach on the federally recognized wildlife sanctuary that is Cuthbert Holmes Park and the Colquitz River.
“Saanich heard concerns from the public about potential impacts to Cuthbert Holmes Park, and we took action to ensure these were addressed,” Atwell said. “Saanich has been working collaboratively with [MOTI] to ensure the park is protected and enhanced .”
A Saanich news release listed the compensation package as follows: an equal replacement of the parkland that is removed from Cuthbert Holmes Park as part of this project; $450,000 to implement the Cuthbert Holmes management plan, a pre-existing plan to include invasive species removal and restoration, trail upgrades and signage; minimal impacts to the Colquitz River; a landscape plan to enhance flora and fauna in the area; an offset and mitigation package, which will be developed by an independent professional biologist; and a commitment to maintain public accessibility, including the replacement of the Cuthbert Holmes parking lot access from Admirals Road and the trail along the northern section of the park.
The news of the compensation and commitment to mitigation comes after Saanich council twice voted against recent proposals by Coun. Vic Derman to request a different interchange design and also to give MOTI a list of recommendations.
On May 9, Saanich council supported a pair of Derman-initiated requests that questioned the partial cloverleaf design but defeated Derman’s motion that Saanich “express concern that the interchange project is single occupancy vehicle-oriented and ask the ministry to explain how they intend to support a regional shift to transit, cycling and walking,” which is part of the regional growth strategy.