The City of Colwood has applied for funding to build an overpass that would create a safe crossing for Galloping Goose trail users in what one cycling advocate calls the “biggest gap” in the region’s trail network.
The 55-kilometre multi-use trail, which runs through Colwood on its way from Victoria to Sooke, is interrupted at the Island Highway.
Cyclists and walkers are encouraged to detour off the trail at Wale Road to ride in a painted bike lane or walk to an intersection at the Island Highway, cross at the light, then use the sidewalk next to the highway to reconnect with the trail. Cyclists are instructed to not ride on the sidewalk.
But many people, when they reach the Island Highway, dart across the five-lane road during a break in traffic.
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said he sees that happen every day, and he hears regularly from residents who are frustrated by the situation.
“I get comments from pedestrians who would love to have an overpass to use, and also from frustrated car drivers who feel like they’ve had close calls,” Martin said.
A bridge would allow the trail to continue uninterrupted over the Island Highway, improving safety for trail users and motorists.
The city has applied for funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, a federal grant program that supports public infrastructure projects.
If the application is successful, the city hopes to start design work next March and begin construction in the fall.
Corey Burger, president of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, said the intersection is “probably the biggest gap in the regional trail network.”
The trail “dumps you out” around Wale Road, where riders are expected leave the trail and take the road, and it’s unclear where to go, because it’s not possible to see where the trail continues, Burger said.
A portion of trail continues past Wale Road until the Island Highway, and many first-time riders follow this route until they hit the busy highway.
Burger said he’s watched groups turn around at the highway, mistakenly thinking they’ve reached the end of the trail, despite there being 40 kilometres ahead of them.
Building a bridge to create an uninterrupted trail is particularly important for new cyclists who don’t know the route and may not be as comfortable riding in traffic, Burger said.
There are more intersections on the West Shore that Burger would like to see upgraded, particularly where the trail crosses Veterans Memorial Parkway and Sooke Road at Happy Valley Road. “Hopefully this piece will stir up some discussions amongst the other West Shore municipalities and [the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure] as well, because they own Veterans Memorial and Sooke Road, that there needs to be some improvements out there.”
The cost for the Island Highway bridge is estimated at $4.9 million, with the majority covered by federal funding. The city would spend approximately $1.4 million from reserve funding set aside for community amenities. If successful in their application, the city hopes to complete construction by fall 2022.