A watchdog group questions the design of a planned “flyover” overpass where Keating Cross Road meets Highway 17, promising to improve traffic in Central Saanich.
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria appears especially critical of the choice to forego a “full movement interchange” at that intersection, which has increasingly become a bottle neck for highway traffic.
The group points to portions of a planning report from 2017 that identify such a full movement interchange (which appears under the heading of Concept 2) as the preferred option of Central Saanich and Highway 17 Joint Peninsula Taskforce, a group consisting of councillors and community members from Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, and the Tsawout First Nation with the District of Saanich as an observer.
The group says a full interchange would help address traffic on Keating Cross heading north on Highway 17, rather than just traffic coming off Keating Cross Road heading south, as the chosen option, which the group describes as half solution.
“Keating Cross is the primary access for major tourism attractions (one million people annually just visit Butchart Gardens) and it’s home to half of all manufacturing in the region which promises to be an economic growth engine for years,” the group said in a statement. “That said, northbound industrial vehicles, semi trailer transports, tour buses, and private vehicles are routed through residential streets to get to the Island View intersection.”
This reality raises safety concerns as northbound traffic coming off Keating Cross would travel past Keating Elementary School.
“How many millions have we spent, and rightly so, to make our schools safe?” the statement reads. “Facing the potential of untold tragedy involving children, who among us want a ‘half a solution’ decision on our conscience?”
The group also argues that a full movement interchange could accommodate bicycle and pedestrian facilities connecting the eastern and western areas of the municipality, improvements now deferred.
While historically critical of excessive government spending and regulation, Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria appear to argue that authorities are penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to the overpass, which is estimated to cost $44 million.
A petition – so far signed by more than 300 people – also questions the chosen option, but it remains uncertain whether these concerns will make a difference as preliminary work on the project is underway.
Britt Burnham, Central Saanich’s manager of community services, said the municipality encourages all groups and individuals to provide feedback to the province by March 24.
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