Cyclists and pedestrians will be the first to reap the benefits of the McKenzie interchange project as the new Galloping Goose overpass will be open for use as early as next week.
The rest of the $85 million project is scheduled to be open for traffic by for the summer of 2019, with some external work to follow, such as landscaping.
At 5.6 metres wide, the Galloping Goose bridge is a significant structure, and one of the key stages of the McKenzie interchange.
“While the bridge will be open [soon], work continues on the trail that’s leading up to the bridge on both sides,” said MOTI’s Janelle Erwin, deputy director, South Island. “There will be new linkages for people to get up to that new bridge.”
At first the Goose overpass will be an option, as pedestrians and cyclists can either use the overpass or continue to use the crosswalk at the traffic light of McKenzie/Trans Canada intersection. However, with the coming cloverleaf and throughway, the intersection crosswalk will soon be removed, making the overpass the only option.
The temporary pedestrian overpass that crosses the highway between Portage Road and Marigold elementary school, and ties into the Goose, will be permanently replaced at a later date.
There will be a temporary lane shift during the daytime from March 24 to 30, “a bit of a kink in the road,” that drivers will need to follow so crews can tie into the CRD water main, Erwin added.
For southbound traffic, the highway will have a bend on either side of the Admirals/McKenzie intersection, and northbound traffic will have a minor diversion north of the intersection. Drivers are asked to keep moving through the construction site while following signs, watching for workers, and obeying the construction speed limit of 50 km/h.
The work will actually affect Saanich residents in the Gorge and Tillicum area, as Saanich will be shutting down its main water service in the area.
It won’t be the last detour and Erwin used it as a gentle reminder to commuters to stay focused on the road.
“We had a similar detour in February and we found when people went through it they reduced speeds quite a bit just to check out what was happening on the centre median,” Erwin said. “We find if people can look forward instead of beside them traffic tends to move more efficiently through the site.”
Overall, commuters seem positive, accepting “short term pain for long term gain.”
The most biggest upcoming stage for drivers are the detours coming this summer, which will run on either side of the highway so crews can lower the highway seven metres, Erwin said.
The highway will also shift slightly, and will follow a different alignment than it is today. Material from the excavation is ultimately being used to create the berm on the border of Cuthbert Holmes Park.
For traffic advisories, go to: www.drivebc.ca.
For general updates, visit the project website: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/mckenzieinterchange/.