Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at the groundbreaking ceremony for phase two of the Douglas Street northbound bus lane. The new priority bus lane will run along Douglas from Hillside Avenue to Tolmie Avenue.

Short-term commuter gridlock expected with bus lane project

Construction on dedicated transit lanes expected to cause delays, city says it’s worth it for long-term benefit of region

There’s some interesting information coming out of Victoria that will invariably affect West Shore commuters heading to and from the capital.

Commuters traveling along Douglas Street will have to be patient over the next coming months, according to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, as construction of phase two of the Douglas Street Priority Transit and Cycling Lanes has now commenced, which will see a northbound transit priority lane constructed along Douglas Street from Hillside Avenue to Tolmie Avenue.

The hope is to increase the reliability of transit during peak hours by giving buses their own lane during those times. Cyclists will also be permitted in the priority lane. The two vehicle lanes will remain, and drivers can also use the third lane outside of the posted peak hours.

“If you take transit, you want to know that it’s [going to] be on time and on schedule,” said Meribeth Burton, BC Transit spokesperson. “People who are stuck in their cars are going to see the bus pass them, and hopefully that will inspire more people to take transit.”

Until then, vehicles and buses will have to drive through the construction to get to where they are going.

“There will be increased congestion during the construction, and that’s part of change,” said Helps. “I thank commuters for their patience and grace while we do this construction.”

Helps said the main benefit will be the long-term effects on transit.

“People don’t like construction, but once it’s done they love the results,” she said. “I think sometimes it’s worth a bit of short-term pain.”

Tony Elson of Real Deal Bedrooms on the corner of Douglas and Summit Avenue, said he hopes the construction is completed by spring, as predicted by BC Transit.

“If [the construction] is a bit of a deterrent for people to get to us this time of year I wouldn’t worry so much as in the spring and summer,” Elson said, because 50 per cent of their annual business comes from the summer months.

In order to add a third lane on Douglas going northbound, existing lanes are being realigned and reassigned, said Katie Hamilton, spokesperson for the City of Victoria.

There will also be a four-way traffic light put in beside Mayfair Shopping Centre.

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