Road resurfacing in the works

Walkers, cyclists, drivers will all benefit

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Pedestrian and cycling infrastructure could be coming to Ganges Hill with new possibilities opened by a resurfacing project on Fulford-Ganges Road.

The Salt Spring Transportation Commission approved a concept for the stretch of road between Seaview and Beddis roads at their Sept. 30 business meeting. The concept will be forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to consider, with the intention that a commission-led pathway project would take place in tandem with MoTI’s resurfacing project in 2020. The ministry has not yet specified how much of Fulford-Ganges Road will be resurfaced.

“The way I see it, we have a major opportunity that’s presenting itself in front of us,” said Allen Xu, who is the Capital Regional District’s new engineering manager for Salt Spring. “We all know there are community concerns about safety and about pedestrians and cyclists sharing the roadway.”

Xu and senior CRD administrator Karla Campbell had met with MoTI staff the previous week to discuss the timeline and prospects for partnership. The ministry plans to go to tender next spring and start work by the summer.

“We really need to make a decision and act fairly quickly so we can jump on their bandwagon,” Xu said, outlining project savings from sharing the costs of an asphalt pour and equipment mobilization/demobilization among the benefits.

The commission voted to recommend a design that would include widened shoulders with paved cycling lanes on each side of the road, and a multi-use pathway on the west or “uphill” side of the road. The recommendation also calls for the bike lanes to be at least 1.2 metres in width, as well as improvements at the intersection with Beddis and Drake roads, a bus stop improvement at the base of Ganges Hill, and bus landing strips along Fulford-Ganges Road at the intersection with Cusheon Lake and Blackburn roads.

Under the agreed partnership, MoTI would be responsible for all the design and cost estimates. The CRD would contribute the costs of non-roadway improvements.

The approved concept is based on one of the options laid out by consultants JE Anderson in 2013, in a study produced for CRD Regional Parks and the local transportation commission. The rough cost estimate at the time put the price of that option at $2.35 million.

Speaking after the meeting, CRD director Gary Holman said he would be very surprised if the price hadn’t gone up since then, although some new aspects should see savings. The original concept called for a sidewalk, for example. The commission has changed that to be a multi-use pathway.

“If the pathway is packed gravel, that should shave off some dollars,” Holman said.

As well, an earlier plan for the bus stop had placed it in front of Embe Bakery, which would have required considerable construction work. Fellow commissioners agreed with member Myna Lee Johnstone, who said the bus stop would be better placed on the block north of Seaview Avenue.

Holman commended MoTI and its outgoing regional manager for committing to the Fulford-Ganges resurfacing project as its top priority for Salt Spring. The project was  first raised by the province as part of the island’s incorporation offer.

“They’re living up to that even though the incorporation initiative failed, so kudos to MoTI and Ryan Evanoff, who continued to advocate for it,” Holman said.

The ministry will now consider the SSITC recommendation and may come back with some adjustments or different ideas for the final project. The local contribution will then be calculated. Holman said another potential source of funding is Bike BC, whom he made contact with at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

The next priority for the commission is completing North Ganges Transportation Plan improvements on Lower Ganges and Rainbow roads. The CRD is just waiting for a Heritage Alteration Permit from the BC Archeology Branch. The first phase of a project called Ganges Pedestrian Plan has been identified as the third immediate priority.

For more on this story, see the Oct. 9, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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