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Province opens bid for Douglas Street bus lanes

Northbound lanes could cost $12.75-million

A dedicated bus lane through Saanich could be up and running as early as next fall.

The provincial government opened bidding Tuesday to extend an existing dedicated bus lane along Douglas Street (Trans-Canada Highway) from Tolmie Avenue to Burnside Ridge, the portion where the road crosses Interurban Road and Burnside Road.

“Reliable, affordable public transit is key to getting people moving with greater ease in the CRD,” said Rob Fleming, local MLA and minister of education.

Available figures estimate the project will cost $12.75 million. The provincial government’s share amounts to $8.1 million, while the federal government will cover the remaining $4.6 million under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Janelle Erwin, regional deputy director with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said construction of the 2.2-kilometre-long lane is slated to start in early 2018, wrapping up in the fall of 2018.

Erwin said the traffic management plan for the project is the same as the traffic management for the McKenzie interchange project.

It requires the winning bidder to keep all lanes open to the travelling public during peak periods, she said. “There will be delays outside the peak periods.”

While the new lane will run through the municipal boundaries of Saanich, the district will not have any approval authority over the project, as the ministry will build on its own land, said Erwin. The project therefore differs from the highway berm that the ministry is currently building as part of the McKenzie interchange project, as the berm encroaches on Saanich-leased land. This said, ministry staff have actively consulted with Saanich staff, said Erwin.

Erwin also confirmed that the ministry will not hold any open houses or other forums to inform the public about the project. Concerned residents, however, can always contact the ministry.

The City of Victoria later this month will close the bidding for southbound bus and bikes lanes from Tolmie to Hillside Avenues.

The bid for the dedicated bus lane running through Saanich will likely be the first of comparable requests for tender. The Victoria Regional Transit Commission, City of Colwood and the Town of View Royal are also considering bus lanes from Goldstream Avenue to the Trans-Canada Highway on-ramp.

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