The plan to widen Douglas Street to make room for a priority bus lane is rolling along quickly in order to meet tight deadlines.
Roughly 40 to 50 per cent of preliminary designs for the corridor, between Tolmie and Hillside avenues, have been completed, according to a report to Victoria council during last Thursday’s meeting.
The $1.6-million plan is to add a dedicated southbound bus lane on Douglas by widening the road by one metre and narrowing existing travel lanes to eventually run rapid transit between downtown and the West Shore to alleviate traffic congestion.
“We’re here to improve the quality of transit,” said Fraser Work, director of engineering and public works.
“It’s not without challenges and compromises. We want to provide a coherent public transit system that comes in and out of the city.”
As part of the design, changes have been made to include the removal of fewer trees and replacing the trees when the lane is completed, wider sidewalks, separated by green space and trees, new medians, upgraded bus shelters, improved pedestrian crossings to include additional crossing time, and directional signage to places such as the Gallooping Goose trail.
The changes are a result of public consultation with organizations such as Walk On, Victoria, Douglas Street businesses, tenants and property owners, and the Burnside Gorge community.
Last month, local activists expressed concern about the loss of trees along the corridor. By making changes, staff hope to “meet the aspirations and concerns of residents of the neighbourhood to the greatest extent possible,” said the report.
“I know there’s been lots of consternation about the trees,” said Mayor Lisa Helps “We’ll plant those little seedlings, and 100 years from now, those trees will be tall and green and provide shade and cover . . . I’m looking forward to input from residents.”
The timelines are tight, with completion required by March 2017. Any delays could impact provincial infrastructure planning for designs for the transit-corridor through the Mackenzie Interchange.
The proposed designs are not final and there are opportunities to improve the design and public realm, based on community engagement. The next workshop is on Wednesday, April 20 at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre.