PEI

Bike lane not included in work now underway on Hillsborough Bridge

Cycling advocates say the province has missed an opportunity to make Island roads more bicycle-friendly. Construction now underway on the Hillsborough Bridge does not include installation of bike lanes, as had once been planned.

Province says it's still part of the long-term plan

The focus for now is on installing the sewer line on time and on budget, according to the transportation minister. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Cycling advocates say the province has missed an opportunity to make Island roads more bicycle-friendly.

Construction work now underway on the Hillsborough Bridge does not include installation of bike lanes, as had once been planned.

"When you're already working on the bridge, now's the time," said Mitch Underhay, co-founder of Bike Friendly Charlottetown

Crews are installing sewer pipes along the causeway and beneath the bridge that spans the Hillsborough River, to link the sewage handling systems in Stratford and Charlottetown.

Two years ago, the previous Liberal government promised to install bike lanes as part of the sewer project.

The Liberals later set aside that commitment, deferring the plan until 2023.

That's the timeline the new Conservative government continues to follow.

"It is in the capital budget for 2023," said Steven Myers, minister of transportation. "We will have to have design work done prior to that and there are some design options that are being floated around now."

'When you push things out like that, the funding for 2023, is that going to be another massive redesign of the bridge,' says Mitch Underhay, co-founder of Bike Friendly Charlottetown. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The province continues to widen roads and pave shoulders of highways to accommodate cyclists, Myers said, and they've focused on roads identified by highway staff as priority areas.

"Right across the Island as we're building roads now, we're putting it through the active transportation lens," said Myers.

The cost of the bike lane has not been specified in the province's capital budgets, but staff estimate it could cost $5 million.

The province continues to widen roads and pave shoulders on a priority basis, according to Transportation Minister Steven Myers. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Cycling advocates want bikes lanes on the bridge sooner rather than later.

"When you push things out like that, the funding for 2023, is that going to be another massive redesign of the bridge? Is that going to be another major construction project?" said Underhay.

Underhay's late brother, Josh Underhay, had successfully petitioned the Liberal government in 2017 to include a bike lane in the bridge work now underway.  Josh Underhay and his young son died suddenly in a tragic canoeing accident in April on the Hillsborough River.

The province is set to release its long-term plans for bike lanes and other environmentally-friendly options. The sustainable transportation action plan is due for release to the public in a few weeks, according to Myers.

It will lay out actions to lower carbon emissions in the transportation sector and promote active-transportation options, such as cycling.

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