Although funding is still needed, separating pedestrians and those on wheels on widened Galloping Goose and Lochside trails took a step forward this month.
The Capital Regional District moved the Regional Trails Widening and Lighting Project ahead at its October board meeting. CRD staff were directed to pursue partnerships and grant funding sources for the project, including making a submission to the federal Active Transportation Fund. The Liberal government launched that $400-million, five-year fund in July to support active transportation initiatives.
The project would widen, light and create separate user lanes on certain urban sections of the trails over a phased timeline. The busiest sections would be given priority for the changes.
The proposal is to widen the sections to more than six metres. Four meters would be designated as the bike path, giving pedestrians two and a half metres of their own strolling space. Another recommendation looks to put lighting at junctions and underpasses to increase safety and visibility. The proposal includes adding low-intensity lights or reflectors near Swan Lake to minimize impacts on wildlife and improve safety.
Staff have put a $17.8-million price tag on the total project. While cost-saving options could shave off $4.6 million of that, the design compromises needed wouldn’t align with public feedback.
The project aims to alleviate issues identified through visitor-use surveys over the past decade. Those issues include speed differentials, lack of separation between trail users, poor trail etiquette, lack of lighting, safety concerns at intersections and crime. Further public engagement campaigns in the spring showed strong support for a separated use pathway design, the proposed lighting scheme and the priority sequence for the work. The stretch deemed the top priority by survey respondents goes from the Selkirk Trestle to Switch Bridge.
CRD figures show there were 2,600 average daily trails users in the busiest months over the past five years. In August, a daily average of 3,700 was recorded.
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