It’s a new year and the days are finally getting longer, allowing for the promise of a time when the drive down highway 14 might be made in something other than Stygian darkness.
But those who are hoping for any significant improvement to what some have called one of the most dangerous arterial routes on the Island may have to wait a little bit longer.
“We’re still looking at a number of options for improving the reliability and safety of mobility on the 14 Corridor,” said Janelle Staite, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Transportation.
“We have to look at what is the most viable from a cost/benefit perspective.”
Staite stressed that significant improvements have already been made to the route in 2018, but acknowledged that much more needs to be done.
Last year began with the news of a fatal crash on the highway on Dec. 29 of 2017, prompting an outcry from Mayor Stew Young of Langford for immediate improvements to the stretch of road where serious accidents have become a regular occurrence.
In June, the Ministry hosted an open house in Sooke where they solicited input on what improvements were needed to the roadway.
“We know that more needs to be done, but we’re still finishing $10 million of work that was initiated last year.”
Staite noted that $1 million went to creating three new bus pull-outs in areas that had been identified as having the largest ridership and that a new rest area had been constructed on the highway to allow vehicles to pull off and allow traffic to pass as well as provide a rest location for frazzled drivers.
“We’ve improved the Sooke River Road intersection and have made considerable improvements in the east side of the Sooke River Bridge,” noted Staite.
“And we’ve added a slow vehicle pullout west of Sooke at Muir Creek and we’ve made a big investment at Roche Cover on Gillespie Road.”
In response to the criticism that the highway’s lane markings tend to disappear in when it is dark and raining, Staite responded that it was a concern that the Ministry was aware of and had responded by having a complete refresh of the lane markings, making them wider and improving the glass bead markers in some areas to further delineate the lanes.
“It’s not feasible at this point to consider the creation of an alternate route into Sooke. What we’re doing is working through a series of incremental improvements to improve safety,” said Staite.
“And, of course, the best idea is always to drive at a safe speed that allows for the road conditions.”