Construction for the Shelbourne Street cycling and sidewalk improvements won’t start until late in 2018, at the earliest.
Cam Scott, the presiding manager of the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan, said that over the course of the next year, detailed design work for both transportation improvements and accompanying underground infrastructure upgrades would occur.
Council confirmed the SVAP’s hybrid Option 3 on Dec. 5. The $12.5 million plan will add continuous cycling lanes on both sides of Shelbourne from North Dairy to Torquay. There will also be a road diet from Christmas Avenue to Garnet Road, where the north and south lanes will be reduced to one each way, plus a turning lane.
To maintain four lanes of traffic on 65 per cent of Shelbourne, Saanich has a requirement of limited property acquisition for 17 properties fronting Shelbourne, and the removal of about 70 trees (for which 90 more will be replanted). Fifteen of the limited property acquisitions are along the westside of Shelbourne between North Dairy and Knight Avenue and will make room for a bike lane. Two more acquisitions are to create left-turn bays at the Kisber and Garnet intersections.
Eighty-four per cent of respondents were fully or partially in favour of the Option 3 plan. Of those who weren’t, most expressed concern with increased automobile travel time along Shelbourne. However, the long-term goal of SVAP is to return the entirety of the corridor to four lanes.
In the meantime, the ‘road diet’ from Christmas to Garnet is sure to draw the ire of drivers. It is the result of two issues, according to Scott’s report. In fact, a right-of-way in that section could accommodate four lanes and a minimum bike facility.
“Firstly, the trees in that section are considered high-value trees which directly contribute to the character of the street,” states the report. “Secondly, the sidewalks in that segment are in relatively good shape, unlike portions of the rest of the corridor. Retaining four lanes and adding cycling tracks would have significant cost and streetscape implications.”
Construction is divided into three phases. Improvements north of McKenzie to Torquay would start first, as well as work to improve the UVic Bike Connector along Poplar Street. Phase two could start in 2019, removing trees and relocating hydro poles to create the bike lanes and sidewalks on Shelbourne from North Dairy to Pear. Phase three could start in 2020 and would complete similar improvements from Pear to McKenzie.
The work will also improve intersections, introduce safer crosswalks and centre-lane turning bays and make the sidewalk ramps wheelchair accessible.
Most of 2017 will be spent in the detailed design work.
While the bike lanes will be separate, only 50 per cent of it will be physically separated, or ‘buffered,’ either with bollards or curbs and vegetation. Bollards could be added to the remaining sections at a later date.
Option 3 also carries a commitment to meet BC Transit guidelines and will remove five stops to create better flow for the buses. It will also add shelters at all 19 bus stops as only 11 (of 24) are currently sheltered.