Section by section, the E&N Rail Trail-Humpback Connector is taking shape along the E&N railbed between the Johnson Street Bridge and Humpback Road in Langford.
But organizers are asking the public to stay off the paths as parts of the trail near completion. For example, the section from Colville and Admirals roads to Wilson Street is almost finished, but it should be considered a construction area for the time being, said Jeff Ward, Capital Regional District manager for parks planning, conservation and development.
“We’re not encouraging people to go out there. Be patient with us and we should have that done in a couple of months.”
The notion of another travel option for cyclists and pedestrians has been gathering steam since 2007, with construction starting in 2009.
Most of what remains to do on the E&N Rail Trail involves safety upgrades at a number of locations. A new rail gate is already in place at Colville and Admirals, with more work underway at Intervale Avenue, Lampson Street and other sites.
“It’s to improve safety for both trail-users and for drivers of vehicles,” Ward said.
The E&N Rail Trail project will add to the existing regional trail complex that includes the Galloping Goose and Lochside systems, but getting it done will take a number of years, Ward said.
“The Galloping Goose took us a while to get built totally, too,” he said. “We got the Goose in ’87 and it really wasn’t until ’95 that it was fully operational.”
The E&N Rail Trail and the 55-kilometre Galloping Goose not only share designation as linear parks, they intersect at a number of spots. The latest stretch of the E&N trail to receive a nod from the CRD is in Langford, and includes one of the meeting points between the two trail routes, said Susan Brice, who chairs the CRD parks committee.
She said the piece will extend from the Galloping Goose/Atkins Avenue crossing to Savory Elementary School — what is sometimes referred to as the Millstream section.
“One of the impetuses is to provide some more opportunities for commuter use, not just recreational use, from the West Shore into town.”
Brice said the approved section has yet to be funded. The cost estimate for the entire trail is about $36 million, with most of the funds being secured gradually from the federal gas-tax program.
Ward said that the initial phase of the E&N Rail Trail is moving toward conclusion.
“We have trail sections that we’re building between the Four Mile Bridge and Hallowell Road, and another section between Maplebank and the Admirals/Colville intersection.”
Scansa Construction got the $1.96-million contract for the two sections in January. Both should be done within a few weeks, Ward said.
He said that piecing the trail together doesn’t always happen easily.
“It’s a really challenging project, given that we’ve got existing rail there and, in this case, we’ve got five roads we have to cross.”
Other work in Esquimalt is scheduled for completion during the fall and winter, or by early next year.
“In Phase 1, we still have a section between Wilson and Esquimalt Road to do, and the Esquimalt Road crossing,” Ward said.
He said Phase 2 will extend from the Four Mile Bridge to the Colwood interchange. Trail users have the right-of-way in some spots and drivers in others along the route, Ward said. He said that if an ongoing public survey is any indication, people love the vision for a new trail in the region.
“People say: ‘We love these trails; we want more.’ ”
The survey, which continues until Aug. 9, will help with updating the trails’ management plan, Ward said. The survey is being taken directly to the public by CRD parks staff and is also available online at crd.bc.ca/parks.