Drivers say they are shaving off massive time from their commute after free-flowing traffic started at the McKenzie Interchange Thursday.
Those on the Trans-Canada Highway did not have to stop for traffic lights while going through.
“I was actually excited to go to work today and do the commute, and I was waiting for it to backlog… and it just never did which was a great surprise,” said Chris Westlake, who works in Victoria but commutes from Langford.
“It’s cut down my day, it used to be 12 13 hours for one day for me… and now it’s cut down to nine or ten,” said Allissia Clark, who works in Saanich but drives all the way from Sooke.
“I used to look on Google traffic maps and it was just a sea of red, over-top where that McKenzie interchange was, but now it seems to be moving really well.”
Drivers were used to a huge headache when they hit the construction zone.
“Gruelling… you know you’re sitting in your car for 40 minutes and then you are finally able to get in to town.,” said Westlake.
The biggest part of the project is complete, but there are still cloverleafs, the transit loop and pedestrian bridge that needs to be finished.
The project has faced multiple delays and is $11 million over budget, bringing the total price tag to 96 million dollars. The province hopes it is completed by this summer.
The province added that they were happy the new route could be opened, but that some had issues navigating the changes.
“We did see some folks out there that maybe wanted to turn left on McKenzie but headed down to Tillicum and made their left there instead,” said Janelle Staitem, from the Ministry of Transportation.
“So there will still be some adjusting along the way.”
Even though the project has alleviated some stress for commuters, there are still concerns that gridlock will still be seen around Tillicum and Uptown.
“Your traffic volumes are much less heavy by the time you hit Tillicum,” said Staitem in response.
“Folks may have to wait a cycle or two at that signal, I don’t think folks will be too disappointed to do that. But ultimately things this morning showed that traffic can flow quite nicely through there.”
Drivers going south on Highway 1 stayed in the left lanes to remain on the highway. To access McKenzie Avenue and Admirals Road, southbound drivers exited right.
This configuration is the same as the nearby Helmcken Road interchange and will be in place until the loop ramp is completed in 2020.
— District of Saanich (@saanich) December 19, 2019
The Government of Canada contributing over $32.6 million under the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – National and Regional Projects and the Government of British Columbia funding the remaining $63.35 million.
In June, the provincial government said the $96 million was $11 million over budget. The extra costs were attributed to design modifications to the centre pier due to “variable rock conditions, additional environmental management, and schedule delays due to winter weather and efforts to lessen traffic and noise impacts.”
Reactions to the new traffic configuration have been mainly positive:
— Ryan Painter (He/Him) (@ryanlpainter) December 19, 2019
Traffic flowing smoothly today with the new #BCHwy1 alignment open at McKenzie, and traffic is free-flow with no more traffic lights. Thanks to the crews for working hard overnight to get this done in time for the morning commute. #yyjtraffic Learn more: https://t.co/7c0UhLLKRe
— Claire Trevena (@clairetrevena) December 19, 2019