EDITORIAL: Public opinion should guide road project

West Shore residents likely to have plenty to say on McKenzie interchange configuration

An upcoming open house should help pave the way for less congestion on Greater Victoria roads, a topic in which commuters from the West Shore will likely be keenly interested.

The public meeting, scheduled for Nov. 17 at St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall, 753 Burnside Rd. West, is an opportunity for the public to have a say on construction of the new McKenzie interchange for Highway 1. The intersection has been the primary bottleneck restricting the flow of traffic from the western communities and up Island for a number of years.

An estimated 90,000 vehicles travel through the intersection every day, resulting in the worst congestion in the province outside of the George Massey Tunnel connecting Richmond and Delta. The new interchange, expected to be complete in 2018, will likely have traffic flowing much better, but that isn’t the only issue stemming from the $85 million project.

Transit and cycling corridors are also major issues for large segments of the community. The upcoming open house is a prime opportunity for residents to get started on helping ensure those priorities will be met.

B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone has promised that transit will be a key component of the project. The minister has also stated that the project will improve safety on the popular Galloping Goose trail, which crosses the intersection. While that will come as good news to many commuters, what form those improvements will take remains up in the air.

“This has to be done right or it’s not going to solve anything,” said Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association, whose neighbourhood the project sits within. “We have a lot of ideas to share with them; I hope they listen.”

And that’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing for the provincial government to invite feedback from the public, it’s quite another for those views to help shape the direction of the project.

We would hope the province allows local groups to be a driving force behind the project’s design. If you are unable to make it to the Nov. 17 open house, you can still make your views known by sending an email to mckenzieinterchange@gov.bc.ca.

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