Mayor dubs Highway 14 island's most dangerous amid calls for safety upgrades
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Thursday, January 11, 2018 5:34PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, January 11, 2018 6:45PM PST
Following a fatal crash on Highway 14, a West Shore mayor has joined the growing chorus calling on the province to make immediate safety improvements to the arterial route.
The notorious highway, also known as Sooke Road, has come under fresh scrutiny after a man died in a head-on crash on the route Dec. 29.
Crashes, road closures and lengthy delays have become something of a regular occurrence for commuters on Highway 14, leading the province to recently commission yet another study on safety improvements.
But Langford Mayor Stew Young says the time for talk is over.
"My frustration now is, when can we get the study done so we can actually get shovels in the ground and get things working?" said Young. "We need to do it now, in light of the last tragedy…there's been a lot of dialogue on that on social media. Let's get this thing done."
He said the highway is now so busy that without improvements, like the widening and medians introduced on the Malahat Highway, that it has become the most dangerous road on Vancouver Island.
"I think we've had more accidents and more deaths [on Highway 14] than we have on the Malahat in the last two years," he said.
Sooke's mayor agrees with Young, saying a reliable corridor is necessary for the community to grow.
"I think for our residents, whether you're catching a flight or going to a medical appointment that you've waited a long time for, you need to know you're going to get there," said Maja Tait.
Tait said a number of improvements could be made on the road, such as making sightlines safer for motorists, adding additional lighting and repainting road lines for greater visibility.
But she said widening the road to four lanes, an idea floated by many fed-up commuters, might not work with the region's topography.
"Is it reasonable to expect four lanes pushed all the way in and out of Sooke? I'm not sure, we'll see what the provincial study is," she said. "In the meantime though, maybe there's ways where it could be widened to make it easier for cars to pull off…or also to have transit buses be able to pull safely off the road."
Commuters who use the highway said they'd like to see improvements in one way or another.
"It can be a little hectic sometimes, accident wise," said Daylin Lheureux, who drives on Sooke Road every day. "Another exit somehow, maybe an extra lane, or something. It's pretty dangerous. If you drive it every day it's not so much, but it seems to be the people travelling out here and the weather conditions definitely help."
The province says although a study was completed in 2017 looking at possible safety upgrades, it found the study didn't go far enough and didn't take enough considerations for increasing populations in Langford and Sooke.
"So, the ministry is going to take this report a step further, looking at new ways to make travel along Highway 14 safer, more reliable, and more efficient," the Ministry of Transportation said in a statement. "As well, we’re expanding the study beyond Langford and Sooke to go all the way to Port Renfrew, and to include consultation with stakeholders to get their ideas for long term improvements."
The ministry said an announcement on those long-term improvements will be coming in the next few weeks.