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Work on E&N Rail Trail missing link to start this spring

Map shows the E&N Rail Trail construction phases, including the newly announced project (in red) between Hallowell Road in View Royal and Maplebank Road in Esquimalt. - Courtesy Capital Regional District
Map shows the E&N Rail Trail construction phases, including the newly announced project (in red) between Hallowell Road in View Royal and Maplebank Road in Esquimalt.
— image credit: Courtesy Capital Regional District

Cyclists and pedestrians can anticipate a continuous 11-kilometre link between Vic West and Atkins Road in Langford, with work on a one-kilometre stretch of the E&N Rail Trail due to start.

The Capital Regional District board on Wednesday awarded a contract for nearly $784,000 to Don Mann Excavating for the engineering and construction of the next segment of the trail. The new section, work on which will start later this spring, will connect trail ends at Hallowell Road in View Royal and Maplebank Road in Esquimalt, with the route going up Admirals Road and cutting through a corner of Esquimalt Nation lands.

“It’s incredibly good news,” said View Royal Coun. John Rogers, a huge advocate of the regional trail systems around Greater Victoria.

Rogers gave kudos to representatives of the Esquimalt Nation and the Town of View Royal for working out details for an alternative access road for members of the First Nations community. As a way to reduce the slope of the trail, the design calls for it to veer from Admirals Road and cross over Thomas Road, the lone access for residents. That road will eventually be closed, Rogers said, with the new access to be off Hallowell Road at the opposite end of the Nation’s property.

The Town of View Royal recently concluded a trucking agreement that spells out the use of Hallowell Road for commercial vehicles operating on First Nations land.

Attempts to reach Esquimalt Nation for comment this week found the office closed due to the weather.

But during a funding event last summer when Highways Minister Todd Stone announced $1 million in funding for the Rail Trail project, Chief Andy Thomas called the negotiations around the use of Esquimalt Nation lands a process of relationship building. The original option, to run it parallel to the rail bed, right through the middle of the community, faced a lot of opposition from community members, he noted.

At the same meeting this week, The CRD board also approved $421,310 to go to Southern Railway of Vancouver Island for the purchase, installation and commissioning of safety equipment for the railway crossing at Hallowell Road.

Upon completion of the Hallowell to Maplebank segment of the trail, two further sections are slated for future development: a 1 km section of trail from the railway crossing on Atkins Avenue to Savory elementary in Langford, and a 1.3 km of trail linking Esquimalt Road to the Johnson Street bridge.

The final segment of trail required to complete the E&N Rail Trail is a 3.6-km section of trail from Jacklin Road to Humpback Road in Langford. No funding or time frame have been approved for that phase of the trail. Its completion would create a 17.4-km regional trail from Victoria to Langford.

More information on t he trail project can be found at crd.bc.ca/project/capital-projects/e-n-rail-trail

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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