VICTORIA -- For West Shore drivers, it might just be a Christmas miracle.

Traffic moving between Greater Victoria’s core and the West Shore will no longer be required to stop at the McKenzie/Trans-Canada Highway light as of early Thursday morning, the Ministry of Transportation confirmed to CTV News.

"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. "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."

It’s a major milestone for the interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway at the intersection of Admirals Road and McKenzie Avenue that was originally slated to be complete by late last year.

Previously, the province blamed “unforeseen factors,” such as challenging weather and ground conditions, for slowing the work, but indicated it hoped to have traffic free-flowing through the interchange by the end of 2019.

The overpass is intended to save drivers travelling from downtown to the western communities about 20 minutes travel time.

"We are working closely with our partners to build modern highway infrastructure that supports economic growth, connects communities and reduces carbon emissions," said Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. "With the traffic lights now removed on Highway 1, drivers will spend less time idling in traffic and more time getting where they need to go, helping improve the commute and keep businesses competitive."

The province estimates that the entire project, including the 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 summer 2020.

The total estimated cost of the Highway 1 Admirals Road/McKenzie interchange is $96 million, with Ottawa contributing more than $32.6 million, and the B.C. government putting up the remaining $63.35 million.