Colwood Crawlers critique McKenzie interchange options

Proposed fixes for the Colwood Crawl, costing about $85 million, spurred droves of drivers and others to brave Tuesday’s wild weather to explore the three options under consideration.

An interchange for where the Trans-Canada Highway meets McKenzie Avenue and Admirals Road was included in 1993 plans for the Island Highway Project but later dropped. Since then, traffic congestion has become worse. The B.C. Ministry of Transportation has revived the interchange idea, offering three designs; the public has until Dec. 11 to comment.

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“I’m just glad that they’re finally doing something,” said Heather Gilker, who went to St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall on Burnside Road West for an open house about the project. The Burnside-area resident said all three options have their good points.

She likes the timeline — completion by the end of 2018 — but not the absence of full cloverleafs to keep traffic moving without stop lights — just a partial cloverleaf in Option 2. “The only downside is that it takes a bit of a chunk out of the park.”

Dave Neilson, who lives on Admirals Road, said he was not concerned about Option 2’s quarter-cloverleaf taking land from Cuthbert Holmes Park. “You can’t get off the trail without being accosted by a homeless person or by dog poop that people never pick up.”

Joe Rigby of Saanichton heads up-Island frequently. He was at the open house to ensure that none of the options would repeat the $24-million “spaghetti junction” interchange that opened in 2011 at McTavish Road off the Patricia Bay Highway.

Rigby said he didn’t have a firm opinion on what was best. “I would be interested in the speediest and least costly result being chosen,” he said. “And I would like to see some sense that rapid transit is being planned for in the immediate future between downtown and Langford and Colwood.”

Joan Karpes was among several Saanich attendees who said they’re routinely blocked in by commuter traffic. A resident of Interurban Road, Karpes said that from 3:30 to 6 p.m., idling cars heading to the West Shore block her driveway, a pattern repeated in the mornings beginning at 8:30. Karpes preferred Option 1, which minimizes incursions into the park. “I don’t know if any of them are going to solve the problem.”

Marigold resident Janet Besler was skeptical about all of the options, saying there isn’t a city in the world where traffic jams have been alleviated by building more roads.

“We need trains,” Besler said. “We need people to get out of their cars.” But if two levels of government are willing to spend $85 million, at least it will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, Besler said.

More details about the McKenzie interchange proposals at B.C. government website

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