Friday July 22, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated with additional photos July 25, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
This week Highway 14 on the way out to Sooke had a new look! On Tuesday a detour lane of newly constructed road was opened, while the rest of the roadworks for the stretch between Connie Road and Glinz Lake Road continues.
Construction of the new alignment for the Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road section will continue into the fall, says the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) today. The overall project budget cost is $87.5 million.
Traffic shifted to the two westbound lanes on Tuesday July 19. That allows two-way traffic to continue while crews get started on the new eastbound lanes and complete the Gillespie Road connector.
On Tuesday, following the morning rush hour, eastbound and westbound traffic will be directed to the new lanes, while workers placed delineators and completed line painting by day’s end.
This made news because Highway 14 is a regular commuter route for people who live in Sooke but work in areas like Langford, Colwood, Saanich and downtown Victoria.
Poles, park and ride, EV charging:
Other remaining work for the upgrade includes the relocation of hydro poles, construction of a park and ride that will include eight EV charging stations, construction of a wetland preservation area to protect plants and wildlife, and completion of the new Nootka Tunnel for pedestrian passage under the new highway.
There was much public input to the project before it got started in 2019. For many years before that, there were concerns and complaints about the safety of the road, and its function as one-road-in/one-road-out for the town of Sooke which was hoping to grow its economic footprint.
Sooke economy depends on Highway 14:
The economy of Sooke long ago was based on commercial fishing and commercial logging. By the early 2000s that economic base was pulling back. By 2007 when the town started to attract new residents from urban centres in Victoria, the BC mainland, Alberta and Ontario — it was obvious that tourism would need to be the economic driver for the town. The population in the District of Sooke has grown substantially from about 10,000 in 2007 to over 15,000 in 2021.
Businesses in the Sooke region felt held back by the unreliability of Highway 14 to always be open (one vehicle accident, flood or fire would close the road for sometimes many hours).
More assurance of a safe route:
As well, tourists needed more assurance of a safe route to Sooke and parts beyond (including the many parks and beaches west of Sooke right up to Port Renfrew).
Motor vehicle incidents (MVIs) — aka car crashes — on Highway 14 (Sooke Road) have been regular enough to be of legitimate concern to drivers (a significant one happened in January 2009 when flooding across the entire road led to the fatality of a young driver, and most recently a young driver died in the four-lane stretch in wet weather).
When the MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca region (John Horgan) became Premier in summer 2017, things finally got underway for improvements to Sooke’s lifeline highway. The MOTI Highway 14 expansion announcement in April 2019 was hosted on-site near the 17-Mile Pub by Premier Horgan.
Photos from July 23 & 25, 2022:
Drivers are becoming accustomed to the new lanes, still through construction zones.
Most completion by Fall 2022, final touches Spring 2023:
Substantial completion of the project is expected this upcoming fall with finishing touches in spring 2023, says MOTI.
Drivers will continue to see construction equipment and materials on the project site until project completion.
These maps by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure show the scope of the work. Click here to see full Highway 14 Upgrade map online, including the new four-lane alignment:
Cutting down trees:
Timber harvested by this project was sold by the Ministry of Forest Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development via their timber bid process, says MOTI in their statement to Island Social Trends.
There was also some cedar timber provided to the T’Sou-ke First Nation.
All granular materials used on the project including gravel were produced from blasted rock cuts within project limits and put through a rock crusher, says MOTI.
===== Road information:
Local west shore traffic summary [Island Social Trends]
Highway 14 construction milestone on July 19 (July 18, 2022)
Premier Horgan on 5 years of delivering results for people (July 18, 2022)
Highway 14 upgrade continues into Summer 2022 (May 24, 2022)
Open house December 3 about Highway 14 improvements in 2020 (November 30, 2019)
Horgan delivers for Sooke: Highway 14 to be widened near 17-Mile (April 23, 2019)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends has been covering news of the Sooke and west shore regions since 2008. That began with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then the weekly print Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and then West Shore Voice News in print/PDF format (2014-2020), before relaunching to cover the full South Vancouver Island Region with the IslandSocialTrends.ca news portal in mid-2020.
Advertising opportunities available for businesses and organizations.