Gorge Tillicum Community Association's draft rendering of the McKenzie-Admirals Interchange suggests underpasses to encourage flow through traffic.

Gorge Tillicum Community Association's draft rendering of the McKenzie-Admirals Interchange suggests underpasses to encourage flow through traffic.

Public feedback will guide design of McKenzie interchange

Open house on the McKenzie interchange will be held Nov. 17 at St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall

When the province reached out to Rob Wickson about the pending construction of an Admirals-McKenzie interchange over the Trans Canada Highway (announced in July), the president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association was expecting an ongoing conversation.

Although he now believes the Gorge Tillicum association will have its voice heard at least once more, he was wary until a recent letter.

“There’s going to be a big impact on Admirals, Helmcken and surrounding routes. This has to be done right or it’s not going to solve anything,” Wickson said. “We have a lot of ideas to share with them, I hope they listen.”

The province has launched a dedicated McKenzie Interchange website where it now seeks feedback from the public and has announced an upcoming open house, 3 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 17, at St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall, 753 Burnside Rd. West.

“We are taking an important next step towards making the McKenzie interchange a reality,” said Premier Christy Clark.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone wrote that “the interchange will improve safety and efficiency for drivers, and it will improve safety on the popular Galloping Goose trail, which crosses the intersection.”

Stone added that the province is committed to transit priority as a key component of the new McKenzie interchange.

“We have started the design on the Highway 1-Douglas Street bus priority lane project, which will extend the existing bus lanes on Douglas Street northwards from Tolmie Avenue.”

Coun. Dean Murdock is pleased the province is acting collaboratively and hopes the consultation process will be similar to that of the Sayward Road intersection at Highway 17.

“Sayward was a good consultation process,” Murdock said. “But really it’s what they do with the feedback and design that’s crucial, they can’t just be about moving cars thorough the intersection. It has to work for cyclists and pedestrians too. We don’t want to see a clover leaf dropped in that intersection.”

Right from the initial announcement of the interchange, president Ed Pullman of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition said they’ll hold Stone to his word that there will be a safe option for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We believe [the Galloping Goose] should be continuous [at McKenzie],” Pullman said.

One way to do that is with a westbound underpass for traffic that could potentially include a lane for cyclists and LRT, said Wickson, and a westbound on-ramp that carries traffic directly onto McKenzie.

The total pricetag for the interchange is estimated at $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. Construction is slated to start in 2016.

“Along with input from the public, we are working closely with other stakeholders and local governments to ensure the new McKenzie Interchange reflects the needs of the people of Vancouver Island both now and well into the future,” Stone said.

Feedback is welcome by emailing mckenzieinterchange@gov.bc.ca. Visit the province’s new McKenzie Interchange website at engage.gov.bc.ca/mckenzieinterchange.