City of Duncan needs a highway bypass

North Cowichan – There are many concerns about the daily gridlock and road accidents on Highway 1 through Duncan.

We have seen Highway 1 traffic increase through Duncan from 12,000 to over 50,000 vehicles per day in the past 10 years. There have been more than 1,200 accidents including fatalities in the past six years along Highway 1 from Boys Road to Herd Road.

This is the Trans-Canada highway and heavy traffic loads are really affecting Vancouver Island and local business and public safety.

It requires leadership to get everyone working together on the Duncan bypass road. The original main road through Duncan along Allenby Road by Cowichan Tribes offices and over the narrow bridge often becomes the route of choice by locals increasing traffic and safety risks.

A traffic study by URBAN Systems in 2005 was prepared for the City of Duncan, Cowichan Tribes council, District of North Cowichan, Cowichan Valley Regional District, South Coast Region of the B.C. Ministry of Transportation. The report includes four alternate routes or highway bypasses.

The west route is most practical as it basically follows the Hydro power lines from Cobble Hill Road south of Dougan Lake near Valley View Centre north to Highway 18 near Tansor turnoff to connect to Highway 1 at either Herd Road or Westholme Road. Mainroad Contracting is located at Tansor for Highways maintenance.

The bypass or Cowichan connector would have no stop lights, could possibly incorporate a cycling route to connect with the Trans Canada Trail along with wildlife underpasses making it a positive feature for the region. This would allow shoppers and visitors to relax and enjoy the Duncan core making it more dynamic and safe, creating a destination rather than the typical “I can’t wait to get through Duncan” bottleneck congestion experience, well known by Island travelers.

Solution: A well-planned bypass. If not now, when? When the land is no longer available, when the vehicle numbers climb to 100,000 per day and the cost is prohibitive? The emissions, accidents and potential of no highway through town in the event of an earthquake make this a timely project.

The Transportation Ministry is aware of the situation and needs to hear from the public to help move it forward.

Joyce Behnsen

North Cowichan