The lights go out Wednesday night at Saanich’s McKenzie Interchange

Traffic pattern changes come overnight on major Highway 1 project

Rick Stiebel

News Staff

It’s official; let there be no light.

A day after confirming the possibility, depending on weather, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced Wednesday that vehicle traffic would be free-flowing on the Trans-Canada Highway at the McKenzie Interchange beginning Thursday, Dec. 19.

Northbound and southbound drivers will be able to use the new highway alignment under the bridge at McKenzie Avenue and Admirals Road, eliminating the wait for traffic lights to change as is the case on the existing configuration. Southbound drivers will stay in the left lanes and remain on the highway, while drivers accessing McKenzie Avenue and Admirals Road will exit to the right. The new configuration is the same as the existing one at Helmcken Road, and will remain in place until the loop ramp is completed in 2020.

A full closure of the interchange will be necessary beginning mid-evening on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Single-lane traffic will be implemented in all directions at the interchange at approximately 8 p.m. Traffic signals will be turned off at about 8:30 p.m., with traffic to be directed by traffic control personnel. Traffic will be completely stopped in all directions approaching the McKenzie Interchange at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday to allow the contractor to move barricades, activate signage and traffic lights and open the new highway alignment. Drivers can expect delays of up to 30 minutes and are asked to be patient and cautious and to follow the directions of traffic control personnel.

RELATED: McKenzie Interchange delivers early present

The new alignment is expected to open at about 2 a.m. Dec. 19. The Ministry recommends drivers detour around the McKenzie Interchange via the Tillicum and Helmcken intersections, Burnside Road or Craigflower Road at the Old Island Highway to avoid delays, beginning at 8 p.m Wednesday until 2 a.m. All work is expected to be completed in time for the morning commute on Thursday. The traffic signal timing was tested throughout last week, and will be monitored at the interchange and neighbouring intersections and adjusted to ensure traffic moves as efficiently as possible. Construction zone speed limits will remain in effect through the project site, including Highway 1, and drivers should obey all signage and posted speed limits.

“We are working closely with our partners to build modern highway infrastructure that supports economic growth, connects communities and reduces carbon emissions,” Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities said in a media release. “With the traffic lights removed on Highway 1, drivers will spend less time idling in traffic and more time getting where they need to go, helping improve the commute and keep businesses competitive.”

RELATED: McKenzie interchange construction delayed into summer 2019

B.C.’s Minister of Transporation and Infrastructure, Claire Trevena, called the removal of the traffic lights a major step in the project, and great news for the thousands of people who rely on Highway 1 each day. “There is still a lot of construction left to do, and I thank drivers, transit users, cyclists and area residents for their patience as the we work to complete this important project.”

While the new alignment may result in a reduction in travel time, the full estimated savings in travel time will not be realized until the project is completed. It is anticipated that the entire project, including the McKenzie exit loop ramp, the northbound two-lane on-ramp from McKenzie, new multi-use overpass, bus lanes, transit facilities and landscaping will be completed by the summer of 2021.

The total estimated cost is $96 million, with the Federal Government funding $32.6 under the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – National and Regional Projects. The B.C. Government is funding the remaining $63.35 million.

More information on the project and new intersection is available at engage.gov.bc.ca/mckenzieinterchange/construction-updates.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com


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