Summer road construction season is here as Don Mann Excavating will start its $3.9 million Wilkinson Bridge replacement project early on Monday.
Road closure signs are now up, indicating Wilkinson Road will be closed for the next six months between Mann Avenue, at the south, and Greenlea Drive, to the north. The project has a total of $6.5 million allocated (if necessary) for the replacement of the Wilkinson bridge over the Colquitz River, as well as a significant enhancement to the Colquitz River Trail.
“Construction will start next week when Fortis relocates a gas main,” said Saanich director of engineering Harley Machielse. “The bridge will be dismantled and taken apart, new piles will be put in for the next bridge.”
About 15,000 vehicles travel Wilkinson Road per day. The Wilkinson bridge replaces an aging one that was designed with pedestrian and cycling traffic as an afterthought. The bridge’s adjoining wooden sidewalk, with blue painted railings, sits a few feet below the road and is the only separated lane for cyclists or pedestrians on that section of Wilkinson.
Saanich is targeting November as the reopening date for the Wilkinson bridge, which will have the Wilkinson corridor ready for displaced traffic from construction of the McKenzie interchange.
“For the ministry’s project, we’ve been communicating ongoing timelines of the two projects, and we believe it’s co-ordinated well enough that we won’t see adverse affects from the McKenzie project,” Machielse said.
In anticipation of traffic impacts, Saanich will post messages on the highway to encourage those motorists who plan to get up the peninsula, to use McKenzie Avenue instead of the Wilkinson corridor.
During construction the Lindsay Street access off Wilkinson will be accessible by Viaduct Avenue only. Subsidiary work will continue on the Wilkinson bridge project until February, but nothing that will slow motorists, Machielse said.
In addition to the Wilkinson bridge replacement is a second contract, worth more than $600,000, to extend the Colquitz River Trail with upgrades and boardwalk construction to Casa Linda Drive. Jacob Brothers Construction will lead the trail project which will require some single lane traffic and minor delays along Lindsay Street from Wilkinson to Casa Linda Drive.
The work includes boardwalks, stairs and railings, retaining wall structures and storm drains.
Prior to commencing the Wilkinson Road bridge and Coqluitz River Trail upgrades, Saanich installed a new light at the intersection of Mann and Glanford.
“These projects were a catalyst to provide the new light at Mann and Glanford, and the cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, which is what we heard from our traffic impact assessment,” Machielse said. “There was already merit for a new light at the intersection, and to upgrade the cycling and pedestrian infrastructure on Glanford around Mann.”
The Wilkinson bridge and Coqluitz trail projects will be paid for with $4.9 million in gas tax funds and $1 million in municipal funds.
In 2014 Saanich ran a survey at an open house for the Wilkinson Road bridge replacement, receiving 69 responses. Fifty-five of those surveyed said they lived in the area, nearly all of them (66) said they travel over the bridge by car, while 33 also said they travel over by foot (and 15 by bike). Only 42 per cent said they use the bridge daily.
Work is also underway to extend bike lanes on Shelbourne from Feltham to Torquay. It will also introduce a new Shelbourne crosswalk at Cedarglen Road, in particular to cut down travel time for Gordon Head middle school and Lambrick Park secondary students.