Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mckenzie and Hwy#1 intersection

The perenial traffic problem on the top of most people's minds in this region is the issue of what to do with the intersection of Mckenzie and Highway #1. I have been giving it a bit of thought within the context of no one seemingly interested in spending a lot of money on the intersection.

The intersection is only one part of a road network in the area and it all needs to be considered to have the impact needed to make a difference.  Just building a single $30 to $40 million interchange will actually not address many of the problems the area around the intersection is not set up to deal with more traffic.

First change that is needed is for all the lights in the region to be synchronized with real time traffic data.   This can be done by having cameras in numerous locations paying attention to the traffic.   This data would be fed into a computer which would then develop the most efficient way the lights should operate.  We would have more vehicles moving and therefore be able to move the traffic faster.   One benefit of this system is that it will change the light patterns as needed and a change in traffic flows would be easily accommodated.

For this to work, I would see the following lights within the network:
  • Highway #1 and Mckenzie
  • Highway #1 and Tillcum
  • Douglas and Saanich Road
  • Mckenzie and Burnside Road West
  • Mckenzie and Carey
  • Mckenzie and Glanford
  • Mckenzie and Pat Bay
  • Mckenzie and Douglas (this is the light just beyond the Pat Bay overpass)  
One would need cameras at all the lights but also in important areas leading up to the lights.   The sooner the traffic data is in the system, the better the system can adapt the lights.

In an ideal world all the traffic lights in the region would be coordinated through one central computer system.   When there is no or low traffic it would be helpful for the system to be able to change lights as needed to allow people to drive with not having to stop.

Changing how the lights work will have a benefit, but far short of what is needed.

Looking at the traffic coming into town, there is a major division of the traffic at Mckenzie/Admirals and Highway #1.   A large portion of the traffic turns left from the highway onto Mckenzie.   One solution to this is to build a dedicated left turn overpass.  A single lane doing this from the highway to Mckenzie would allow for a lot of traffic to continue moving.

Coming into town there could be a longer lane for traffic wanting to get onto Admirals, in fact the lane that exits at Burnside could be extended backwards through the intersection and then 100 to 200 meters further back.

Going out of town, having Highway #1 three lanes from Saanich road through to 200 meters beyond the lights at Mckenzie would increase capacity and one of the lanes could be an HOV lane, three or more only.   This change should reduce the back ups at all the lights right back to Finlayson or even Hillside.

The one problem with this change is that there are only four lanes on the bridges over Burnside.  I am not certain there is enough space, but both bridges have sidewalks on them that are not connected to anything and could be made into traffic lanes, the problem is that their might be a need to make the lanes narrower than is normal for a highway and make the bridge stretch officially a 60 km/h zone.

Traffic coming onto Mckenzie faster would cause an increase in problems at the next two intersections. There are some solutions possible there.

Mckenzie and Burnside Road West can be improved through several changes.    Going westbound, Mckenzie could easily be made a three lane road all the way through to the bridge over Interurban.  Having the extra lane up to the light would allow the storage of more cars and the extra lane after the light would give the space for more traffic to traverse the intersection.

View Larger Map

On Burnside Road West, one important change is to make the eastbound part two lane for some 200 meters before the light.   At the light the left turn bay needs to be removed.    What I would replace it with is a left turn bay 50 meters to the east of the intersection to allow people to turn left into the lane where people going west currently turn right to access Mckenze in the direction of Admirals.  The existing left turn lane is too short and causes backups all the way back to where Burnside and Interurban split.

A third land on Mckenzie towards Admirals also makes sense, though this lane should funnel onto Highway #1.

The next intersection is Mckenzie and Carey Road and I think is one that should be removed.   There is very limited demand to go from Mckenzie to Carey or vice versa.   The way one would remove the light would be to build a short tunnel for Carey under Mckenzie.  You allow a right turn access to Mckenzie westbound from Carey and allow for the return by making the right turn off Mackenzie eastbound to Carey slightly longer so that it can meet Carey at a 90 degree angle and allow for left hand turns into the new tunnel.

For traffic wanting to turn left from Carey onto Mackenzie westbound, I would reroute that traffic via Kenneth onto Glanford.  I am 100% certain that people in Kenneth will hate this idea and demand it not happen.

The Glanford and Mckenzie intersection has few options for improvement.  The best that I can see happening is three lanes in each direction on Mackenzie coming into the intersection.   I would also have larger left turn storage bays on Mackenzie and add left had turn storage bays on Glanford.   In ideal world I would make Glanford two lanes north and south bound for 200 to 300 meters after Mckenzie.

Now to go to Highway #1 going into town there is Tillicum and Highway #1.   There are some changes that would improve this intersection.    Going northbound on Tillicum, one of the two lanes should feed into a left turn lane onto the highway.  Right now the limited size of the left turn bay backs up all the traffic and means people miss the light regularly when they did not need to.   The majority of the traffic north bound on Tillicum is headed for the highway west bound.

With all these changes, which in my back of the envelope calculaltion could be done for $15 to $25 million, would make a dramatic difference during peak hours and reduce the congestion on the Colwood Crawl dramatically.    If one were to only choose a few of the cheaper fixes, there would be significant improvements to traffic.
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