Work is continuing on the first phase of interchange construction on the four-lane Trans-Canada Highway at the intersection of Admirals Road and McKenzie Avenue in the District of Saanich, B.C.
"Phase 1 is expected to be completed late in the summer of 2017," says Jason Jacob, principal of Jacob Brothers Construction Inc. in Surrey, B.C. which is the general contractor on the $18-million first phase.
The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) is the owner of the McKenzie interchange project which lies to the north of Victoria.
Construction of Phase 1, which began in the fall of 2016, involved realigning and widening the Galloping Goose Trail with a new bridge over McKenzie Avenue.
Material was placed on the site to compress soft soils and a temporary pedestrian overpass replaces the original one over the Trans-Canada Highway.
A regional waterline running under an eastbound lane of the highway is also being moved.
The second phase of the project, which is out for tender now, is to build the interchange and a new pedestrian and cycling overpass over the Trans-Canada Highway.
Total estimated cost of the two phases of the project is $85 million.
The busy McKenzie-Trans-Canada Highway intersection handles traffic to downtown Victoria, northward up-Island and to the growing suburbs of Colwood, Langford and Metchosin, and to the BC Ferries terminal and Victoria International Airport in Sidney.
The interchange will replace the existing stop lights at McKenzie Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway with a partial cloverleaf design.
According to MoTI, the interchange will include bus lanes and overpasses for pedestrians and cyclists. Once it is completed, it will reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety.
"There's too much traffic, and it's been a problem for years," said Jacob.
"The "Colwood Crawl" can take drivers more than an hour to go just a few kilometres on the Trans-Canada Highway in and out of Victoria at rush hour."
The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, he says.
Jacob says Phase 1 of the project has had to deal with a number of challenges.
"One problem we had was the scheduling of the project," he said.
"Because of the timing, much of the work had to be started in the winter, during one of the worst winters in coastal B.C. for many years."
There were unexpected surprises, such as the discovery of a previously unknown watercourse.
Jacob Brothers' work on Phase 1 had to be scheduled so as not to conflict with traffic on busy streets.
"It meant that we had to work many long shifts," said Jacob.
"It also meant coordinating with many stakeholders — the District of Saanich, the Municipality of Esquimalt, the Capital Regional District, the provincial ministries of Transportation and Infrastructure and Education and various utilities."
Despite these constraints, Jacob Brothers has made "excellent progress" on Phase 1 of the project.
"And we haven't had a negative impact on the traffic while all of this was going on," said Jacob.