New McKenzie interchange faces design challenges

Unclogging the West Shore commute will need better solution than those currently in use

A new McKenzie interchange may reduce traffic backlog on Highway 1, but its design and construction has two distinct challenges.

First is the design with overpasses and exit ramps in relatively tight space. Three of our largest demonstrate major flaws in design. Mckenzie/ Douglas, McTavish and Langford show that the Ministry of Highways tries to save money by avoiding full clover leaf layouts and flyovers.

Allowing traffic separation and unimpeded flow through in only one direction still requires left-turn traffic lights for the other direction. And who hasn’t cursed highway planners for the absurd traffic backups on the Langford overpass while trying to make a left turn to return to the city. I plead please don’t let the same engineers for Mctavish design the new overpass.

Secondly, where does the traffic end up next? Not all traffic coming off Highway 1 at McKenzie Avenue is heading to Uptown, downtown, to UVic or to Highway 17. Remember, south on Admirals Road is a key route to the Dockyard. The Burnside Road intersection should be completely grade separated to function as a local roadway to access the nearby schools.

Getting eastbound cars off the highway to simply backup at a traffic light at Burnside just shifts the bottleneck. And Carey Road doesn’t provide a connection to Interurban. The design of the new overpass must recognize and accommodate these links.

Finally, grade separation is needed for the Goose Greenway Trail to protect passage of cyclists and students, and must be incorporated into the design.

There may be no traffic backup at Helmcken overpass to VGH but what about at the five-way Interurban/Hastings/ Wilkinson intersection? That traffic mess will only build with the major new Watkiss Way mixed use development.

I don’t offer simple one-stop fixes or a comprehensive solution but the implications are dire unless Saanich, in direct co-operation with the Capital Regional District, does a major update of its traffic plan for all of Saanich West.

Fortunately the current Regional Growth Strategy is under review and new regional vision must recognize the reality of present and future traffic congestion which cannot be resolved solely by current CRD preoccupation with a new transit bureaucracy.

James D. Anderson

Saanich

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