With a lack of sidewalks and – despite that – an abundance of pedestrians who enjoy walking along the narrow, tranquil roadway, Colquitz Avenue is the epitome of a quiet residential street.
But the closure of Admiral’s Road three blocks over, as part of the Craigflower Bridge replacement project, has turned Colquitz into a busy – albeit temporary – route for B.C. Transit buses.
“This street is no more than a single lane wide, and to have 140 buses a day go up and down, seems like it could be rather hazardous to children walking to school or people walking down the street,” said Geoff Godfrey, who lives on Colquitz Avenue. “And legally the speed limit is 50 km/h. So we’re here thinking this might not be too safe.”
Saanich and B.C. Transit have each fielded calls from residents who echo Godfrey’s concerns. During construction, the No. 11 bus has been rerouted from Gorge Road onto Colquitz, and rejoins its regular route on Cowper Avenue.
“It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the best solution we’ve come up with at this time,” said Meribeth Burton, spokesperson for B.C. Transit. Conversations are continuing with Saanich and the community association to see if there is a better solution, she said.
Until something changes, Godfrey and neighbours are pushing for a 30 km/h speed limit on their street. Burton says bus drivers have already been told to go 30 km/h down Colquitz Avenue.
Saanich’s manager of capital projects says the municipality will be measuring speeds and counting the vehicles that use Colquitz in the coming week to determine if more needs to be done to alert drivers.
“If there’s a speeding issue, then we can respond and perhaps change things,” said Jim Hemstock.
“Colquitz is viewed really as the only viable solution. It’s straight, it doesn’t have ditches beside the road and it’s the closest (street) to the western part of the community. We’re trying to make this as short a period as possible. It’ll be about 10 more weeks of this.”
Hemstock says Colquitz is being used for buses and local traffic only. Cut-through traffic to access Gorge Road is being urged to use Cowper Street and Obed Avenue, then head south on Tillicum Road.
“It’s not possible to do this without some inconvenience,” he said.
Godfrey says he can live with buses going down his street for a short time, but hopes B.C. Transit is open to making adjustments to their routing to ease the neighbourhood’s concerns.
“They could cut the amount of traffic in half (on our street) by having the buses going north use Inlet (Avenue) and the buses going south use Colquitz,” he said.
If all else fails, temporary 30 km/h speed limit signs would, optimistically, have an impact, Godfrey said. “We just want (drivers) to be aware this is a residential street, and to try to keep the speed limit down.”