Federal government pledges $16M for overpass at Pat Bay Highway, Keating Cross Road

Federal money to kick-start construction of a $44.3-million overpass at the intersection of Keating Cross Road and the Patricia Bay Highway is a win all round, says the mayor of Central Saanich.

“I get that we’re not always going to get a full-movement interchange everywhere ... but this, from my perspective, is good for the Peninsula, good for traffic and good for safety,” said Ryan Windsor, who said it’s been a topic of discussion since he first served on council in 2013.

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In one of a flurry of pre-election announcements made across the country Monday, the federal government announced it was providing $16 million to build an overpass at what has become a risky left-hand turn across the highway onto Keating.

“It is dangerous. Things go much worse there when there is an accident than elsewhere,” said Windsor, adding he’s been told the province intends to start construction in the spring of 2021.

According to the Insurance Corp. of B.C., there were 15 crashes at that intersection in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available. There were 24 at the intersection of the Pat Bay Highway and Mt. Newton Cross Road.

The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said there has been one fatal collision at the Keating/Pat Bay Highway intersection in the last five years, and 12 injury collisions since 2014.

Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said an overpass will “greatly improve” safety at the busy intersection and help prevent collisions.

While Central Saanich has kicked in $2.5 million for the project, the amount of the provincial government’s contribution for the project is pending Treasury Board approval.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure puts the total cost at $44.3 million and said it is being asked to fund the majority of the project.

Treasury Board approval has already been granted to proceed with detailed engineering design.

“These improvements to Highway 17 will greatly alleviate the chronic congestion issues people experience daily on this busy regional transportation route,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, who made the announcement on behalf of Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

“Creating more vehicle capacity and smoother traffic flow will allow people to spend less time on the road and more time at their destinations, supporting economic activity and a higher quality of life.”

The project involves a new flyover overpass from the northbound lanes of the Patricia Bay Highway to Keating Cross Road. It will also include a realigned southbound on-ramp to Victoria.

The upgrades are intended to make it safer for vehicles to use what has become a busier corridor while promoting regional economic growth with easier movement of traffic.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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