A bypass for Duncan?
Bill Dumont and Andrew Poland’s opinion piece (Citizen, July 12) advocating for officials to start planning and building a new highway bypass for the city has drawn much comment, both from here in the Cowichan Valley and from elsewhere.
Summer is the time when people tend to get the most up-in-arms about the traffic through the commercial heart of Duncan, as dozens of motorhomes join the lines of vehicles as they snake their way through town on the Trans Canada Highway.
There’s no doubt that it can be slow going (though we’d argue the hour Dumont and Poland cite it taking is a trifle exaggerated). The seven sets of lights from just past the silver bridge to the south, to just north of the Cowichan Commons shopping centre do back up traffic, and there’s nothing quite like being trapped in a vehicle, surrounded by other vehicles on a blacktopped surface as the sun bakes the whole scene like a frittata.
Some agree that a bypass is what we need, while others argue there are better solutions out there if we think outside the box a bit.
We tend to agree more with that last.
A few reasons why include the fact that the current highway route is already the Duncan bypass, so doing the same thing all over again is questionable. Some of the problems could be overcome should officials refuse to allow commercial development and entrance/exits on the new road. But this kind of thing tends to encourage sprawl — something we think the community would want to think long and hard about.
Also the fact that acquiring land to build a bypass is impossible on one side of the highway, and would be extremely difficult if even possible without going a significant distance inland on the other, put a distinct damper on any enthusiasm for a potential bypass.
Dumont and Poland are certainly right about one thing: it’s time to talk about it, and plan for the future.