After being closed to vehicle traffic since the onset of the pandemic, one road in Beacon Hill Park will reopen as a two-way street in about a month.
Bridge Way – from Heywood Way next to the cricket pitch, up to the accessible washrooms at the park – will reopen to vehicles as a two-lane road. At council’s July 22 meeting, staff said a detailed design and reopening of the road will take about four weeks.
Before the pandemic, half of Bridge Way was a one-way road for vehicles and the other side was a multi-use lane for active transportation.
Arbutus Way and Chestnut Row, which were also closed to vehicles to accommodate physical distancing, will remain as pedestrian- and cyclist-use only.
A vehicle loop allowing drivers to turn around and head back down Bridge Way to Heywood will be created near the washroom and play park areas. There’ll be room for two or three accessible parking stalls in that area, staff said.
|A staff concept for a vehicle turnaround outside the Bridge Way washrooms. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)|
The concrete centre barrier on Bridge Way will be removed, but staff said that’s an easy process as it’s commonly moved to make way for marathons.
Although vehicles will be sharing the roadway with pedestrians, staff expect a low number of motorists and slow speeds on Bridge Way. However, staff said some pedestrians using Bridge Way may not feel as comfortable with sharing the road.
Signage could be posted at the intersection of Bridge and Heywood to identify that no exit exists at the end of the two-way section. Signs could also indicate Bridge Way is only for accessible parking and washroom access. Staff noted that any signage or speed would be difficult to enforce.
Coun. Stephen Andrew told Black Press Media that people living with disabilities were not properly consulted when the roads were closed and again now with the reopening strategy.
“(The other councillors) are just looking at it in a very, very narrow scope and that it’s about access to the washroom. It’s not about access to a washroom, it’s about access to the entire park,” he said. “At one time, we provided access to the entire park through this road structure and then we took it away.”
Andrew wanted council to reconsider an original motion that called for several roads in the park to reopen to vehicles.
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