For immediate release
Saanich, B.C.—The District of Saanich is delighted to work together with the Township of Esquimalt to create an expanded pedestrian walkway over the Gorge on the west side of the Gorge Bridge. The walkway will be built using the southbound curb lane and will be protected with concrete curbs.
“Saanich’s Active Transportation Plan has been guiding our improvements to walking, biking and other active mobility options for the past two years,” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes. “The addition of this permanent pedestrian facility will both add to our growing network and safely expand the link between our two communities. Wherever possible, we look for the benefits to work collaboratively with our neighbours to deliver more. This is a great example.”
“We’re actively looking for ways to improve how people move within and through Esquimalt by foot, bike and other low-carbon means,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “This enhancement to the bridge’s pedestrian experience demonstrates the importance of regional cooperation by creating our active transportation networks thoughtfully and strategically.”
Why undertake this work?
The existing sidewalks on this bridge are too narrow due to a combination of the sidewalk width and railings on both sides. During the CRD Wastewater Treatment Project last year, the curb lane was closed to provide a walkway for pedestrians for several months. When the construction was completed and the road returned to its original configuration both municipalities received requests from the community to continue with the lane closure, providing an improved connection for pedestrians between both sides of the Gorge. As a result of these requests, Engineering staff noted that delays to vehicles were observed to be minimal and as this connection aligns with several of the District’s long-term priorities it was decided to revert permanently back to the expanded facility.
Relationship of the bridge and municipalities
The Gorge Bridge straddles the boundary between Saanich and Esquimalt. Historically Saanich has taken the lead for maintenance of the bridge, with Esquimalt contributing funds towards the costs. Following this relationship, Saanich will complete this work on behalf of the two municipalities. This project supports a popular pedestrian loop route around the Gorge inlet connecting both municipalities.
Work is expected to be completed on March 26, 2021. Construction will occur at night in order to minimize disruption to traffic and allow adequate space for construction crews and equipment. During construction the bridge will be reduced to a single lane on the east side. Traffic control people will direct traffic using a single lane alternating procedure and will prioritize transit and emergency vehicles as needed.
Active Transportation Plan progress
Saanich is on track or ahead of schedule in the majority of measures of success towards 2023 targets for the Active Transportation Plan (ATP). The ATP is available for viewing at saanich.ca and updates to current progress can be found in the report card.
The Township of Esquimalt is launching its first active transportation plan public engagement in late March and will be looking for feedback on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in the municipality.
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