New McKenzie interchange faces design challenges

The Burnside intersection should be completely grade separated to function as a local roadway

A new McKenzie interchange may reduce traffic backlog on the Highway 1 but its design and construction has two distinct challenges. First is the design with overpasses and exit ramps in relatively tight space.

Three of our largest demonstrate major flaws in design. Mckenzie/ Douglas, McTavish and Langford show that the Ministry of Highways tries to save money by avoiding full clover leaf layouts and flyovers.

Allowing traffic separation and unimpeded flow through in only one direction still requires left-turn traffic lights for the other direction. And who hasn’t cursed highway planners for the absurd traffic backups on the Langford overpass while trying to make a left turn to return to the city. I plead please don’t let the same engineers for Mctavish design the new overpass.

Second, where does the traffic end up next? Not all traffic coming off Highway 1 at McKenzie is heading to Uptown, downtown, to UVic or to Highway 17. Remember south on Admirals is a key route to Dockyards. The Burnside intersection should be completely grade separated to function as a local roadway to access the nearby schools.

Getting eastbound cars off the highway to simply backup at a traffic light at Burnside just shifts the bottleneck. And Carey Road doesn’t provide a connection to Interurban. The design of the new overpass must recognize and accommodate these links.

Finally, grade separation is needed for the Goose Greenway Trail to protect passage of cyclists and students, and must be incorporated into the design.

There may be no traffic backup at Helmcken overpass to VGH but what about at the five-way Interurban/Hastings/ Wilkinson intersection. That traffic mess will only build with the major new Watkiss Way mixed use development. This is a major truck route to the regional Hartland landfill, and via West Saanich Road offers a secondary route to the Peninsula industrial parks as well as the airport and ferry. Camosun is currently expanding and Discovery Park wishes to do the same.

I don’t offer simple one-stop fixes or a comprehensive solution but the implications are dire unless Saanich, in direct co-operation with the Capital Regional District, does a major update of its traffic plan for all of Saanich West.

I urge Saanich to give this matter attention because even three years of detours required for the massive construction project itself will result in a major shift in traffic patterns. It is imperative that council provide planning and engineering staff with direction and funding to revisit the transportation aspects of the OCP. Make a formal request to CRD and View Royal for an immediate joint public review of the Regional Transportation Plan.

Fortunately the current Regional Growth Strategy is under review and new regional vision must recognize the reality of present and future traffic congestion which cannot be resolved solely by current CRD preoccupation with a new transit bureaucracy.

James D Anderson



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