Construction set to begin soon on long-promised overpass for Pat Bay Highway
Keating Cross overpass will eliminate need for northbound drivers exiting Hwy 17 to cross busy lanes
The province has awarded a construction contract for the Keating Cross overpass on the Patricia Bay Highway north of Victoria, meaning the start of the actual building process is now just months away.
The project was first announced in 2019, after years of discussion about the intersection on Highway 17, the route that connects B.C.'s capital with the busy Swartz Bay ferry terminal.
To access Keating Cross Road, which is in a busy industrial area of Central Saanich, northbound drivers must turn left across multiple lanes of traffic — without a light.
It can be especially difficult when a ferry has just unloaded at Swartz Bay.
According to data from ICBC, there were 49 crashes there from 2017 to 2021, the third most in Central Saanich.
Mayor Ryan Windsor says the district is contributing $2.5 million to the project, as much as a small municipality can afford.
He says it's about safety, but also about economic growth.
Keating Cross Road connects the highway to Keating Business Park, which is home to around 3,000 jobs, according to the province.
The business park will be able to expand once it is easier to access, Windsor said.
"Those jobs, certainly, will rely on key infrastructure like this," he told CBC News.
Good news for customers and commuters
Stacey Toews, co-founder of Level Ground Trading, a company headquartered in the area, said the issue of access comes up when directing customers to his business, and can be an issue for staff commuting to work — by car or bike.
As well as the overpass, the project will widen Keating Cross Road and add sidewalks to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists.
"It's really desperately needed and I think it's long past due," said Towes. "So, I'm excited to see what happens."
Additional project work includes support for rapid bus transit and the closure of Highway 17 access at both East Saanich Road and Martindale Road.
The construction contract went to FlatIron Constructors Limited, a subsidiary of a German company focused on infrastructure such as highways and bridges.
The province is paying for most of the project — $57.6 million — while the federal government is contributing $16.7 million.
An exact start date has not been set, but construction is expected to begin by summer, and wrap in spring 2025.
Some work is expected to be done at night to minimize the impact on daytime traffic.