Work is underway to address the sometimes hair-raising drive from Langford to Port Renfrew.
The province has begun work in an effort to further improve the safety and security of drivers who depend on the two-lane highway that connects two of the fastest growing communities in B.C.– Langford and Sooke.
“The project team has begun discussions with potentially-affected property owners as part of the planning process for future improvements,” stated a Transportation Ministry press release.
Highway 14 has long been a point of concern as the winding nature of the roadway has been the scene of serious accidents that have closed the highway for extended periods, essentially cutting off Sooke and Port Renfrew from the rest of Greater Victoria. That, combined with the exponential increase in traffic flow, have led to calls for an alternate route between the communities or a widening of the existing roadway.
Part of the ministry’s work on the problem has involved landowners affected by potential road improvements and landowners have become part of the planning process.
The Ministry of Transportation has not identified a route, and there has been no confirmation that a new route to the north of the existing highway will replace the existing route as the main roadway into Sooke. A planning document released by the ministry has identified several different alignment options.
The ministry has reviewed an option that would run south of the existing highway between Impala and Connie roads, then north of the current highway to Glinz Lake Road, and then swing north of the existing highway between the 17 Mile House and Saseenos.
An alternate route that would run between the four-lane portion of Sooke Road to Sooke River Road where it would connect with Highway 14 is also an option, but a ministry spokesperson acknowledged concerns that the higher ground traversed by such a roadway might pose a challenge during the fall and winter months as snowy conditions would become more of a factor.
A simple realignment of some of the more winding portions of Highway 14 is also possible, according to ministry staff, but that option represents additional environmental and engineering challenges than the other alternatives and would require more planning and design.
The improvements to Highway 14 is a priority of the B.C. government and has already resulted in more than $10 million in improvements to lane markings, bus pullouts, and signage along the route.
The Gillespie Road bridge has also been replaced and a new rest area near Sombrio River was constructed as was a slow vehicle pullout near Muir Creek.
Another project linked to making the transportation route more efficient is improvements to the Sooke River Road intersection. That work is expected to be completed by mid-2019.