Saanich may look at turning the five-way intersection of Interurban Road, Wilkinson Road and Hastings Street into a roundabout. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Saanich may look at roundabout for intersection

They are common in Europe and one could potentially appear at the intersection of Interurban Road and Wilkinson Road.

Harley Machielse, Saanich’s director of engineering, said previous community consultations had identified a roundabout, or traffic circle, as a future improvement to the five-way intersection at Interurban Road, Wilkinson Road and Hastings Street.

“[That] may be an option we examine in the future,” he said. “That’s all of the information we can provide at this time.”

A non-scientific survey of Saanich News readers deemed the intersection to be the worst area for traffic congestion in Saanich by 37.5 per cent, ahead of the intersection at Trans-Canada Highway and McKenzie Avenue, which received 25 per cent.

Since the publication of the survey, the Saanich News has received suggestions on how to improve the intersection with the idea of a roundabout leading the way.

“The proven ‘easy fix’ for a busy [five] road intersection is a roundabout, [European] style with [two] lanes, not traffic lights,” wrote Richard Packham, who has lived in the United Kingdom before emigrating to Canada.

Roundabouts are circular intersections where drivers travel counterclockwise around a centre island. Drivers yield at entry to traffic in the roundabout, then enter the intersection and exit at their desired street. They are a common sight in European cities. Perhaps the most prominent roundabout in the region appears at the intersection of McTavish Road and Highway 17 near Sidney.

Machielse had said earlier that Saanich would wait until the completion of the McKenzie Interchange Project next year to evaluate the intersection.

“At that time, we can see how traffic patterns have adjusted in the area,” he said.

The current schedule calls for the completion of the project by the summer of 2019 following a series of delays since the official start of the long-anticipated project in September 2016. The project worth $85 million promises to improve the flow of private automobile traffic, as well as public transit through one of the major traffic choke points in the region at the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Trans-Canada Highway through the addition of a partial ‘clover-leaf’ system of on and off-ramps and other improvements.

Saanich has consulted with the public about the intersection in the past, said Machielse. “Unfortunately, we did not find a solution that was acceptable to a variety of users, including local residents, commuters, BC Transit, pedestrians and cyclists.” This said, Saanich has not closed the door to future improvements, but only after it has amassed additional data.

“It’s important for us understand the post-construction impacts the Interchange project has on the transportation network before we review the five-way intersection,” he said.

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