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Roundabout revisited for key crossing

May 05 2012

Returning to a roundabout at Hillside Avenue and Douglas Street might improve traffic flow on the Douglas corridor, says Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt.

The traffic circle at the intersection of Government Street, Douglas, Hillside and Gorge Road was built in the late 1940s and demolished in 1963. Dwayne Kalynchuk, the city's director of engineering, said there has been no thought given to its return.

"It's something that council should at least think of maybe about keeping an open mind," Isitt said during consideration of Douglas Street transit planning report. "Who knows? Traffic circles aren't a panacea, but maybe it's something worth pursuing in terms of medium and long-range planning for the city."

He noted the intersection has the dubious distinction of being included as a Trivial Pursuit answer for having the longest stop light in the country.

But Mayor Dean Fortin said if the new traffic exchange at McTavish Road and the Pat Bay Highway is any indication, a roundabout is not a direction the city wants to go.

"Having had and seen the experience of traffic circles, I would say that the one at the airport is a work in progress - which is probably a nice way of saying that people hate it dearly," Fortin said, adding, "I would certainly say there are probably higher priorities."

Fortin hopes to see cost estimates by summer for time-limited bus-only lanes during rush hours along the Douglas Street corridor.

"If, by June, we can get to the point where we're looking at the installation of a timed bus-only lane coming [into town] in the morning and a time-limited bus-only lane going out, we know that will have a huge immediate dividend for commuters back and forth and for the transit system," Fortin said.

He could not estimate how long installation would take, noting that it's not as simple as just painting lines and putting up signs.

For example, he said, sidewalks along Douglas extend slightly into the street at corners so that pedestrians are more visible and it's safer for them to cross. "So obviously those would have to be removed and those types of issues would have to be dealt with."

Meanwhile, Victoria councillors endorsed a number of recommendations stemming from a joint council meeting they held with their Saanich counterparts in February. Saanich council has already given its blessing.

Among the recommendations is that downtown to Uptown be the first link in the development of a new rapid transit system to the West Shore.

Victoria and Saanich staff are working on a joint funding application for federal gas tax funds for integrated land use and transit planning along the corridor.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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