From left

From left

Relief from daily commute coming with interchange

Overdue improvement at Admirals-McKenzie section of TCH expected in three years’ time

West Shore commuters can get excited over the announcement of provincial and federal funding for the long overdue Trans-Canada Highway interchange at the intersection of Admirals Road and McKenzie Avenue.

The price tag is $85 million – $52 million from B.C.’s 10-year On The Move plan and nearly $33 million from the federal conservative government’s New Building Canada Fund infrastructure budget.

“Construction will be underway likely within a year and the improvements should be realized by the folks who live here a couple of years after that,” Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure said at Wednesday’s announcement.

The concept for the interchange, seen by many as the logical solution to the daily gridlock  goes back nearly 30 years. Its momentum stopped in 1995, when Saanich’s concerns over the welfare of Cuthbert Holmes Park, among other things, helped cast it aside.

Saanich Coun. Leif Wergeland believes Cuthbert Holmes Park won’t be a concern or setback during the consultation and planning stages for the upcoming interchange.

“I believe it comes back to [including] pedestrian, cycling and transit with a major expansion, [council] just like many of these things to blend in and become part of it, which is reasonable.”

The interchange will ‘uncork’ the largest bottleneck in B.C. outside of the George Massey Tunnel between Richmond and Delta.

“There’s 90,000 vehicles coming through here per day, it’s going to be an interesting and complex project from a traffic management perspective to ensure that traffic continues to flow,” Stone said. “We’ll take time to develop an active traffic plan that we believe will work and get people through this bottle neck during active construction.”

Stone also confirmed the province will help fund a Westshore Parkway extension that runs 3.5 kilometres from the Trans-Canada Highway to Sooke Road. That project will cost $22 million, with $7.5 million coming from B.C. and the federal government and the other third from the City of Langford.

Addressing the “Colwood Crawl” was the No. 1 concern from Island residents in the 2014 B.C. On The Move Engagement from Greater Victoria all the way up to Campbell River, Stone said.

Mayor Atwell visited Stone earlier in the year and had a rough idea the announcement was coming and of the cost (none of it to Saanich), but wasn’t sure until Wednesday.

Atwell is also interested in how the interchange can alleviate the congestion along Wilkinson.

Saanich has been waiting to see what is going to happen here at McKenze-Admirals before making any decision, Atwell said.

“At a basic level, this intersection has been the reason for the traffic coming down Wilkinson-Interurban. Drivers treat [the latter] as a bypass, which it was never intended to be.”

editor@goldstream gazette.com