Cloverleaf design the early favourite for McKenzie interchange

Public feedback on the $85-million McKenzie interchange shows the most support for a partial cloverleaf that would put the Trans-Canada Highway under McKenzie and Admirals Road in the battle to unclog the Colwood Crawl.

Of the 932 comment forms received by the Transportation Ministry in the first phase of consultation, 259 supported the partial cloverleaf, which is Option 2.

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Option 1, a diamond interchange that would see the highway go under the intersection, received 110 supportive comments. Option 3, a diamond interchange that would see the Trans-Canada go over the intersection, received 27 supportive comments.

B.C. is providing $52.4 million and Ottawa $32.6 million for the project, aimed at unblocking the biggest vehicle traffic bottleneck on Vancouver Island and improving conditions for B.C. Transit passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The ministry will use the feedback, along with technical and financial considerations, to refine interchange concepts, said a summary report released Wednesday.

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said he’s pleased at high level of public participation at this early stage of planning.

He noted the clear preference for the partial cloverleaf, which he said would “mitigate the lineups that extend from the simpler diamond-only designs of the other two options.”

Atwell said that the elimination of traffic lights and expanding the project scope to address the congestion at McKenzie and Burnside Road were among the most important themes in evidence from the feedback.

But Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, said the cloverleaf option will encroach too far into Cuthbert Holmes Park and tower 20 metres over it — something he predicts will be “pretty ugly.”

Twenty-six per cent of respondents cited park encroachment as a very or extremely important consideration in the scheme of things.

As far as Wickson is concerned, the three options are just variations on one design that will just move cars in and out of town, with other needs “retrofitted” as secondary considerations. The project will just push the traffic bottleneck farther into Saanich, he said.

John Luton, of Capital Bike and Walk Society, agreed, calling the proposals a “laxative for traffic” that’s going to show up somewhere else.

“It’s going to crap all over Burnside; it’s going to crap all over Tillicum at the highway,” he said.

Luton was encouraged to see improved pedestrian and cycling connections were cited as highly important by 66 per cent of respondents.

“That’s good — I think the ministry has to take into account how to best service that constituency,” he said.

More than 70 per cent of respondents rated accommodating B.C. Transit operations as highly important.

All three options meet the needs of B.C. Transit in terms of bus stops and road-shoulder travel by buses, said senior B.C. Transit planner James Wadsworth, adding he expects to see refinements to transit options at the next open house.

The three options all call for four new bus stops in the interchange, and B.C. Transit said all would allow for rapid transit by bus or light rail.

A open house is slated for Feb. 24, during which the project team will present updated concepts and the public can provide further input. It is scheduled for 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall, 753 Burnside Rd. West, Saanich.

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

McKenzie interchange feedback, Feb. 3, 2016

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