One man’s plan for a transit tunnel underneath downtown Victoria

WatchIt's a bold plan that would eliminate bus traffic in downtown Victoria, but an island man says it's time to send the buses underground.

Standing on the corner of Douglas and Courtney in downtown Victoria, Thomas Guerrero makes his pitch.

“Honestly I’ve had this idea for about ten years,” he tells CHEK News.

In the final days of 2019, the local blogger who writes on all things downtown on his site “Sidewalking Victoria” turned a few heads with a post titled, “Douglas Street Transit Tunnel”.

The article outlines his vision for a one-kilometre, bus-only tunnel that would run from Courtney Street north to Discovery Street.

He proposes two underground stops along the route, one at the Bay Centre and one near City Hall.

“If we took the buses off the street we could easily reduce the number of lanes on Douglas, adding bike lanes and widening the sidewalks for pedestrians,” he writes.

Guerrero, who also sits on the Victoria’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee, compares his plan to Seattle’s 2.1 kilometre downtown transit tunnel which opened in 1990.

“Seattle’s goal was to really ease up traffic where my idea is to free up space along the streets,” says Guerrero.

Just last year, Seattle axed its buses from running underground and moved them all back to ground level. The city now has light rail running in the tunnel.

“I think people need to start thinking bigger. In Victoria we deserve to have some of the same infrastructure that other cities have, we need that infrastructure,” he says.

Mayor Lisa Helps says the city of Victoria already has a plan for transit.

“We need to get the above-ground bus rapid transit lanes done, all the way from downtown Victoria to Langford and then out to the Peninsula,” she says.

She says anything that veers from that plan on Douglas Street would be “a distraction”.

It’s unclear how much a project of this magnitude would cost but the blogger believes it would be between 500-600 million dollars.

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