EDITORIAL: Interchange idea isn’t dead yet

While government plans are vague, we can hold out hope for possibly of improvement at Highway 1 and McKenzie Ave.

Last week, B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone trumpeted the province’s long-awaited transportation plan as “a roadmap for the next 10 years on how we will expand and improve our transportation network to ultimately improve the quality of life for us all.”

The B.C. On the Move plan is the result of 13,000 responses from British Columbians about their perceived infrastructure priorities. But the lack of detail in the plan is frustrating, given the hype of its release by the province.

It didn’t take 13,000 responses to inform the government that Vancouver Island’s top traffic problem remains the logjam at McKenzie Avenue/Admirals Road and Highway 1, a malaise which draws primarily from West Shore-based commuters.

Anyone anticipating a specific timeline and commitment to an interchange at the intersection had to be disappointed with last week’s On the Move announcement.

While the province committed to key, but unspecified, Highway 1 upgrades between Langford and Saanich to “reduce congestion and improve commuter mobility,” there was less certainty around the interchange idea.

The ministry did, however, commit to revisiting the potential for a future interchange at the busy intersection as a way ease congestion along the region’s busiest commuter route.

Preliminary engineering work is already underway as part of a feasibility study into such a project.

Cost is clearly the major factor for an interchange, which some estimates put in the $80-million to $100-million range. The province stated it will be looking to partner with the feds and local governments to ease congestion and improve safety along the corridor.

While the Conservative government dispensed with its infrastructure grants some years back, in an election year, who knows what might happen? Then again, finding money for an interchange would gain more traction if we had a sitting government MP.

Just look at the McTavish Road monstrosity, a project built when Gary Lunn was the area’s Conservative MP and a cabinet minister.