New protected cycle lanes and more traffic lights will line one of Victoria’s busy cross-city corridors, work that will make children and all road users safer, officials say.
The construction project, expected to take a total of 10 months, is beginning on the 2.7km stretch of Fort Street from Cook Street to Foul Bay Road.
This work includes extending the All Ages and Abilities (AAA) protected bicycle network with two-way bike lanes between Cook and Harrison streets, then descending to a single protected path for the remainder of the route to Foul Bay. Updated and new traffic signals and bicycle and pedestrian crossings will also be used at several locations along the construction route.
“During public engagement with the AAA Bicycle Network, we heard strong support for improving safety on Fort Street,” Mayor Marianne Alto said in a statement. “This project provides essential updates and safety features for all road users.”
Funding for the $11.7 million project comes largely from Victoria’s state reserves for road paving and traffic signal upgrades, developer payments to the city, and the federal government’s Canada Active Transportation Fund, each of about $3.7 million .
Part of the work that Fort will see sees drivers leaving the city center rushing down a two-lane street for less than a kilometer before children need to cross the road to and from Central Secondary School. The stretch of road outside the school also saw the left lane suddenly turn into a turn lane at the same point, with parents having to turn right when leaving Central’s drop-off area.
The work will include upgrading the existing traffic signal and crosswalk used by Moss Street students and adding a new signal, lighting and crosswalk immediately after Fernwood Road.
The left lane that allows drivers to turn onto Yates Street will also be removed and replaced with a public square, an intersection with flashing lights and electric car charging stations. Victorian spokeswoman Colleen Mycroft said the removal of the slip road would allow the city to repurpose the space at the flashing pedestrian and cyclist crossings at Yates and Fort.
The city has installed a covered bike shed at Central, which will provide a much-needed addition to its active community, the school said.
“We’re excited to offer our students, teachers and staff a safer way to get to school,” said Central’s principal, Gillian Braun.
As a national leader in mode-sharing, the city said it is “committed to expanding high-quality bicycle infrastructure to combat climate change and provide transportation options for residents.” Connect and connect the community to employment areas such as urban hospitals.
Many of Island Health’s healthcare officer Dr Michael Benusic’s staff already cycle to the Royal Jubilee Hospital and the improvements will encourage more staff to cycle and walk more often.
“Redesigning streets to support active mobility could deliver health and safety benefits for decades to come,” Benusic said in a news release.
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