The Government of British Columbia announced that people who commute and rely on transit between the Westshore and downtown Victoria can expect easier, more reliable travel with improvements coming to the Colquitz River Bridges.

The Highway 1-Colquitz River Bridge Widening Project will widen and seismically retrofit both existing two-lane bridges over Burnside Road on Highway 1. A bus-on-shoulder lane will be added to each bridge, connecting and extending the bus lanes in both directions from Tillicum Road to the McKenzie Interchange. The changes remove a key pinch point by creating a continuous transit corridor between downtown Victoria and the McKenzie Interchange, reducing traffic congestion and improving service reliability.

“We know this area is only getting busier and it’s crucial we have a strong transportation network that people can count on to get to and from their work, homes and families between downtown and the Westshore,” said Rob Fleming, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This project is another step toward improving our climate resiliency and making our infrastructure sustainable long into the future.”

The project also includes significant environmental improvements to support the sensitive habitat in and around Colquitz River. A new bridge-deck drainage system with a rain garden and sediment catch basin will be installed to filter roadway runoff, improving water quality in the creek. Non-native and invasive plants will be replaced with native trees and vegetation. The ministry worked with the region’s local governments and environmental groups to complete the designs.

“To build a brighter future for Canadians, the federal government is investing in projects that improve connectivity and resiliency,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and member of Parliament for North Vancouver. “Widening the Colquitz River bridges will make for a more reliable, efficient commute for south Islanders while protecting local waterways and ecosystems. We will continue investing in public transit infrastructure that makes it easier for residents to navigate their communities and that contributes to a greener future.”

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The construction contract was awarded to Pomerleau Inc., with construction anticipated to start in summer 2024 and project completion forecast for fall of 2025. Highway 1 and Burnside Road West will remain open throughout the construction period with lane closures limited to off-peak hours. No changes are planned for bus service through construction.

“Transit is vital to our region and this infrastructure improvement will make the bus more convenient for people who commute in and out of the downtown core,” said Bruce Williams, chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “Supporting the long-term health of the Colquitz habitat also supports the residents and businesses in that neighbourhood who understand the value this natural environment provides to our region.”

The total project investment is $35.5 million, with the Province contributing $23.5 million and the federal government contributing $12 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

The project is a part of the Province’s South Island Transportation Strategy, which focuses on improving the sustainability and resiliency in southern Vancouver Island communities through highway, transit and active transportation improvements.

Featured image: (B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

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