Gorge Road between Admirals and Tillicum roads is expected to reopen Friday (Dec. 20) after a nearly six-month closure to install new sewer lines.
The $1.7-million project took nearly twice as long to complete than expected, after crews unearthed a number of items underground that slowed work.
“The contractor encountered extra rock that was not shown on our geotechnical investigation, and we went through numerous archeological sites,” said Sean Elliott, senior sewer technologist with Saanich.
Bone fragments, middens and small artifacts were uncovered throughout the project. There’s evidence that First Nations occupied the area as long as 2,800 years ago.
Saanich had access to a contracted archeological monitor who ensured the safe removal of the culturally sensitive material, with direction from First Nations elders.
The bone fragments were added to a burial ceremony held Dec. 11 for remains discovered during excavation for the Craigflower Bridge project earlier in the year.
Jim Hemstock, Saanich’s manager of capital projects, says the simultaneous closure of the bridge kept traffic flows in the area lower than normal – which made it the perfect time to do the sewer projects.
“Hundreds of cars an hour would come over the bridge and turn down Gorge Road, so with the bridge closed we figured that would be the time to do (this project) – we don’t have to detour several hundred vehicles through the neighbourhoods,” he said.
The Gorge Road work was part of a Capital Regional District project to upgrade a sewage pump station at Austin Avenue.
The first part of the project was installing the new sewage lines along Gorge Road from Tillicum to Admirals.
Gorge Road is expected to reopen by late afternoon Friday. Also open to traffic for the first time since April will be Admirals between Gorge Road and Cowper Street. That section of road was closed for the bridge project, resulting in north-south traffic cutting through side streets.
Colquitz Avenue resident Geoff Godfrey says he’s looking forward to having that section of Admirals open again, so vehicles can access Gorge without cutting through quiet residential roads.
– with files from Kyle Wells