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Opinion: This is why downtown Victoria traffic is ‘bloody painful’

But are Victoria drivers actually spoiled compared to other areas?
A road sign on Blanshard Street in Downtown Victoria. (Chris Campbell photo)

Is Victoria really a “traffic disaster,” as some readers have told me?

I ask this because I just moved to Victoria a month ago from Vancouver, a place where commutes are a tire fire and traffic jams make you feel like years have been taken off your life (even when you’re taking transit).

And yet, when I arrived in Victoria, people here swore that the traffic would drive me batty. I stayed in Gordon Head for my first few weeks with a friend who told me it would be a “long” commute to my new office in downtown Victoria.

That “long” commute turned out to be 17 minutes, door to door.

I can assure you that if a Metro Vancouver resident was offered a 17-minute commute they would drop to their knees and weep in orgiastic joy.

So when I was contacted by a Victoria resident named Terry complaining about the traffic snarls on Blanshard Street, I had to laugh a bit.

For the record, I avoid Blanshard Street on my drive home to Vic West. It’s a long wait to make a left turn to get to the bridge and so I drive elsewhere.

Terry, however, doesn’t feel like he has a choice due to where he lives.

“It’s bloody painful,” Terry said. “The lineups in the morning and at the end of the day are getting worse and I feel trapped. It shouldn’t be this bad.”

I do question if the situation is really that “bad” compared to what I’ve dealt with over the years, but I respect Terry’s pain.

I also told Terry that he would have to get used to it.

For one thing, more and more workers (especially in government) are returning to their offices, adding to the vehicles on the road.

But Victoria has also started work on water main upgrades on Blanshard Street in what is the second year of a decade-long $53.8 million renewal of underground infrastructure.

“To minimize disruption and maximize public benefit, the City is coordinating the Blanshard Street water main works with other improvements which will include new road paving, replacement of old traffic signal equipment and new road markings to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists and easier for traffic to circulate in the downtown,” the city said in a news release. “Staff are working with the contractor to minimize traffic impacts where possible, however the public should plan for travel delays resulting from this construction.”

I’m sure all involved with do their best to minimize the disruptions, but when you have to tear up parts of a road, it’s going to be a massive disruption.

This project will also impact other streets as traffic gravitates to them to avoid Blanshard. So look at stuff like this instead of blaming bike lanes for slowing you down (also for the record, bike lanes save lives).

This is just how it works. Infrastructure, especially in an old city like Victoria, needs upgrading.

“Resilient cities have resilient underground systems,” said Mayor Marianne Alto in a news release. “Renewing and upgrading our underground infrastructure is critical to protect our communities and ensure our core water, sewer and stormwater services can be maintained in the event of an earthquake or a climate change event.”

My best advice to Terry and other drivers is to put it all in perspective - at least you’re not driving in Metro Vancouver.

Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press Media at the Victoria news hub. Follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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