The $85 million McKenzie interchange is past the halfway mark and while it’s only about a year away from completion, there are still a few major hurdles to pass before commuters can get excited.
With about 85,000 cars passing through the Trans Canada Highway intersection with McKenzie-Admirals each day, the ongoing traffic delays due to construction will continue.
Janelle Staite is leading the project as the regional deputy director with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. She took time to meet media on Friday morning for an update.
Traffic delays reached an unofficial peak in June when the ministry adjusted light sequencing to improve the flow and reduce the heavy delays.
The next big change in traffic flow won’t come until November, Staite said. At that time traffic lanes will be altered as the excavation for the new lowered highway continues.
Most of the current delays are during nightly blasting.
The blasting will continue between 8 and 10 p.m. as the new highway is lowered seven meters, Staite said.
“We don’t know how much blasting we’ll need to do as we find more rock.”
Aside from the overall setback of the heavy winter rain in 2016-17, which pushed the project back about six months into mid- to late- 2019, things are on track. The Galloping Goose McKenzie overpass is complete while the temporary pedestrian overpass between Portage Road and Marigold/Spectrum schools will be upgraded to a permanent overpass in 2019. And soon-to-be installed green sound walls are sitting in piles along the side of the highway just north of the temporary overpass with the frames for some of the sound walls already erected.
The green noise walls will typically be three metres high and made of concrete and walls will be placed on MOTI right-of-way. Noise mitigation is also anticipated by having a raised Galloping Goose trail and by lowering the highway below the interchange. The project also includes rapid transit facilities for the future, as well as “shoulder lane and queue jumper priority lanes at ramp intersections that allow buses to bypass queues,” says the project website.
The highway is identified as a future rapid transit corridor between the West Shore, downtown Victoria and the University of Victoria. Construction of a priority bus lane is currently underway along Douglas/TCH from Tolmie to the Burnside Bridge (just west of Tillicum/TCH intersection) but will end there, though will benefit from the new priority pullout at the McKenzie interchange.