If Colwood plans it, an overpass may come to the Island Highway.
A feasibility study for a cycling and pedestrian overpass over the busy regional roadway, to be paid for with $12,500 from gas tax revenues, has been approved by council and could be a key to connecting one of the last significant gaps in the Galloping Goose Trail.
“What that (study) does is makes us eligible for grants. In order to qualify for the grants you need to have plans,” said Coun. Lilja Chong. “So the feasibility study (will tell us) how long it would take to build, how much it would cost, where it would be and the province would say ‘yes’ or maybe fund half of it.”
At a Capital Regional District trail management plan open house this month, avid cyclist Chong noticed there were no plans to address the need for Goose riders travelling in either direction to cross Island Highway at the controlled intersection at Ocean Boulevard and Wale Road.
Chong said she has taken videos of trail users jay walking or cycling across the busy highway mid-block to reach the next section of the Goose, an alternative she said isn’t safe.
“(The Galloping Goose) is 55 kilometres long and out of that, the Island Highway is the only major gap. You have to walk five minutes down, wait because it’s a huge intersection, and walk five minutes up,” she said. “It breaks the connectivity the Galloping Goose is supposed to have.”
While the topic of a connector has been discussed before, Coun. Gordie Logan hopes this time there may be an opportunity to make it happen.
“This particular item is something the City met with Highways Minister Todd Stone about at the (Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention) last September,” he said. “And he looked at the project favourably because it met a number of the province’s objectives in terms of transportation objectives and climate change.”
Logan said an overpass must blend into a community, adding that the City has no interest in a “concrete, ugly behemoth,” as he referred to some pedestrian overpasses around the region. He hopes for something both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Chong agreed, saying the community of Colwood has a chance to show its artistic side with such a structure.
“The CRD plan promotes art, like murals,” she said. “View Royal made a little overpass … with a rock mural, it is very artsy (and) it shows the opportunity that you can be creative.”
While it’s too early to have specifics of any funding model or exact plans, Chong is hopeful the province and CRD will partner on an overpass project to help make it a financial reality.
“I am very excited to move forward with this … We have tried, but come across challenges and we still face challenges, but I feel we have a real shot,” she said. “I keep hearing there is the need and the want. I hope this time we can do it; get some grants, get the funding, so it will go through. It’s an exciting thing for cyclists and pedestrians – everyone.”