Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming and Victoria Regional Transit Commission chair Susan Brice listen as Carla Qualtrough, federal minister of public services, announces next phase of bus-only lanes for Highway 1 earlier this year. Construction will start this week. (Black Press File)

Construction of southbound bus lane running through Saanich to start this week

Total value of the project is $16 million

A $16-million project that promises to improve public transit in Greater Victoria starts this week.

Crews will break ground on the southbound Douglas Street bus lane extension project. The extension running 2.3 kilometres from the south end of the Burnside Road overpass on Highway 1 to Tolmie Avenue mirrors a priority bus lane completed in December 2018.

“Priority bus lanes help get people to where they want to go faster than in a car,” said Claire Trevena, minister of transportation and infrastructure in a release. “We expect the two-way continuous corridor between Fisgard Road and the Highway 1-Burnside Road overpass will encourage more people to use transit and, in turn, help reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Funding for the project comes from two sources: the federal government at $4.9 million and the provincial government at $11.1 million.

RELATED: Bus-lane project for Greater Victoria continues with federal funding

“We are extremely grateful for these joint investments from the federal and provincial governments,” said Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, who also chairs the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. “Growth in transit is a priority for our region, and this extension will help us achieve our goal of getting more people out of their vehicles and enjoying the benefits of transit.”

The Douglas Street corridor is one of the busiest commuter routes in Greater Victoria. As many 1,700 vehicles use it per hour during peak travel times. Of these vehicles, transit buses make up three per cent of the traffic, but carry 40 per cent of the people.

The ministry has asked the contractor — Ralmax Contracting — to schedule the majority of work outside of peak traffic periods to minimize delays. The ministry will not allow lane closures for construction on Sundays, statutory holidays or between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Nighttime work may include 25- to 30-minute traffic stoppages, with the public receiving advance notice.

The southbound bus priority lane complements other investments, such as the McKenzie Interchange and northbound priority bus lanes, to quickly move buses along the corridor and reduce traffic congestion. The provincial government has identified improved reliability of transit as an important component of the South Island Transportation Strategy, described as a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach towards reducing traffic congestion.


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