EDITORIAL: Interchange impacts more than just traffic

Commuters to benefit, but impact on park questioned

Regular West Shore commuters were no doubt cheering Tuesday as Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced the chosen design for the new Trans-Canada Highway and McKenzie Avenue/Admirals Road interchange.

The partial cloverleaf idea received “overwhelming support” from the public, Stone said, adding that the province’s design team has been doing ongoing technical analysis of the options. “Now our work continues in discussing further details with stakeholder groups and the public as we finalize the design,” he said. Stone pointed out three-quarters of those who took part in public consultation preferred the partial cloverleaf option.

While technical analysis shows the partial cloverleaf provides benefits to safety and efficient movement of traffic, it does come at a cost. That cost takes the shape of an increased footprint in Saanich’s Cuthbert Holmes Park.

Park steward Dorothy Chambers, among others, has opposed the partial cloverleaf option, saying it would be devastating to trees and wildlife in the area.

Those who use Highway 1, McKenzie Avenue and Admirals Road daily in that intersection are expected to benefit in terms of travel times. But as the project moves forward, the province must work closely with stakeholders and park advocates to mitigate the impact on the environment and ensure Cuthbert Holmes retains its valuable natural setting.

The design of the interchange should improve access for cyclists and pedestrians, with a separate route for a wider Galloping Goose Trail, following a path over the highway avoiding lights and vehicle traffic.

Of course, the driving force behind the $85-million project is to reduce traffic congestion on what has been called “the largest bottleneck in B.C. outside of the George Massey Tunnel.”

We are optimistic that when the project sees its completion, estimated to be sometime in 2018, it will significantly reduce the commute times for those stuck in the “Colwood Crawl.”

We hope the province devotes as much thought to providing a benefit to residents and wildlife in the area as they have for the 90,000 motorists who pass by each day.

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