(McKenzie Interchange/Ministry of Transportation)

Motorists in Greater Victoria are bound to appreciate what feels like a Christmas miracle!

The Ministry of Transportation has issued a statement confirming that vehicle traffic will flow freely through the McKenzie interchange on the Trans Canada Highway starting Thursday, December 19th.

Drivers will be able to use the new highway alignment that has been constructed under the McKenzie/Admirals bridge without having to stop at traffic lights.

See also: Watch timelapse of McKenzie Interchange underpass being installed (VIDEO)

“The removal of the traffic lights from the highway at McKenzie Avenue is a big step in the project, and great news for the thousands of people who rely on Highway 1 each day,” said Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in a statement.

“There is still a lot of construction left to do, and I thank drivers, transit users, cyclists and area residents for their patience as we work to complete this important project.”

The construction of dedicated transit lanes is yet to be completed, due to which construction zone speed limits remain in place.

The province estimates that the whole project, including McKenzie exit loop ramp, northbound two-lane on-ramp from McKenzie, new multi-use overpass, bus lanes, transit facilities and landscaping will be completed by next summer.

The Saanich McKenzie interchange project originally began in September 2016 with an $85 million budget and expected completion by late 2018.

Since then, it has been delayed twice and $11 million has been added to the budget.

Schedule delays caused by several “unforeseen factors”, like significant weather events on the island (ie. heavy snowfall), and the discovery of highly variable rock under the existing intersection, are among reasons why the interchange costs more time and money to complete.

Once completed, the entire McKenzie interchange project is expected to save commuters about 20 minutes while travelling from downtown Victoria to the western communities.

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