Tuesday May 24, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 3:15 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The Highway 14 Improvement Project has been underway for a few years now. That’s after previous decades of complaints about the unsafe conditions of driving that stretch of Sooke Road (Highway 14) between Langford and Sooke.
The section between Connie Rd and Glinz Lake Road (including Gillespie Road intersection) has had the historical highest number of crashes on that corridor which serves as a one-way-in/one-way-out of the community of Sooke.
As Island Social Trends often travels that route doing our news coverage, we have noted the development of construction over the past couple of years since the Horgan NDP government gave the green light to Highway 14 corridor improvements. Premier John Horgan is the MLA for the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding that includes both Langford and Sooke as well as Highlands.
The current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure is Rob Fleming, and before that the MOTI Minister was Claire Trevana. Both are Vancouver Island MLAs.
Prior to 2017, the previous government neglected the safety issues of the Highway 14 route, other than taking credit for a roundabout installed in Sooke town center in 2016 (which in earlier preparations in 2013 caused issues with local businesses on Townsend Road that were cut off from easy access from Highway 14).
Key route for economy & tourism:
Highway 14 is critical for some Sooke-based businesses that require reliable access to Langford and the core areas of Greater Victoria beyond.
As well, residents rely on Highway 14 for access to a wide range of services beyond Sooke including major retail, post-secondary, government offices, downtown Victoria businesses, and further out to the airport and ferry on the Saanich Peninsula.
The Highway 14 route is also fundamentally essential to development of the tourism economy in the Sooke region. The seaside forested area is popular for hiking, fishing and getaway vacations, including through the Juan de Fuca area up to Port Renfrew.
Project construction safety:
In recent weeks, MOTI workers were seen scaling the side of a steep cliff amidst the Highway 14 construction zone (near Connie Road) using ropes. It looked somewhat treacherous; there seemed to be no lift equipment such as a ‘cherry picker’ truck or ladder system.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) of course states that “safety on the project site is taken very seriously”.
“Appropriate safety training, equipment, and PPE is provided to workers, and suitable machinery and methods are utilized for worker access where required,” it was stated by the Ministry.
Ditto on safety for the driving public: “The Highway 14 Improvement Project is an important investment in the highway and transit infrastructure that will improve safety, expand transit options, and shorten commute times between Victoria and the West Shore, Sooke and other communities of southern Vancouver Island,” stated MOTI last week.
The dangerous driving conditions of Highway 14 in that section have been noted by MOTI:
“The section between Connie Rd and Glinz Lake Road (including Gillespie Road intersection) has the historical highest number of crashes on the corridor, and it will be four-laned with median barrier on a new 1.4 km alignment. It is nearly 65% constructed with completion by spring 2023.”
A new transit park-and-ride will be constructed at Gillespie Road with an upgraded intersection.
Prior to construction there was much MOTI consultation with the Sooke public about the range of improvements needed on that section of Highway 14, including open houses and input opportunities online.
Given the reliance of the Sooke community on Highway 14 access to and from the larger Langford and Greater Victoria area, talk about Sooke Road safety has been ‘a thing’ since the mid 2000s.
Way back in 2009, Island Social Trends (then MapleLine Magazine) published a list of comments from local residents about the need for safety improvements (on the back cover of the February to April 2009 edition). In years after that, the owners at the 17 Mile House Pub were also publicly active about safety improvements on Highway 14, as their facility is right on that winding curvy stretch near where a lot of the Sooke Road crashes happened.
Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road project outline:
This is the current list of actions being taken on the Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road upgrade project, as published by MOTI:
This portion of the project will realign this section of Highway 14 and widen it to four lanes, making it safer and easier for drivers to navigate. The project involves:
- Installing a median barrier along the highway between Manzer Road and the Neil Creek Bridge located to the east of Connie Road.
- The proposed Cooper’s Cove U-turn has been removed. Instead, a connector road between Manzer Road and Gillespie Road will allow Manzer Road residents access/egress from the highway via the new Gillespie Road grade-separated intersection. This connector will also provide an alternate emergency detour connection for Highway 14 between Glinz Lake Road and Gillespie Road, as well as further support active transportation in the area with sideroad connections.
- A new road between Manzer Road and Gillespie Road and between Connie Road and Gillespie Road will provide a low-speed and low-traffic volume connection between local sideroads for local residents.
- A new park and ride will be built at Highway 14 and Gillespie Road to make public transit through this corridor more efficient and convenient. It includes an interchange with a new connection to Connie Road, 50 parking stalls and new eastbound and westbound bus bays. The new Gillespie Road park and ride is within easy cycling distance of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
- A new pedestrian underpass will be built east of the new intersection at Glinz Lake Road and Polymede Place to make crossing Highway 14 safer and support active transportation in the region.
- Adding new eastbound and westbound bus bays to Highway 14 at Glinz Lake Road/Polymede Place to better serve transit users.
- Increasing culvert sizes to accommodate crossings of amphibians and mammals.
- Strategic placement of scuppered median barriers to help keep small mammals from being trapped on the highway.
- Adding approximately 30 streetlights near sideroad intersections to improve visibility for drivers.
Also west of Sooke:
Another section of Highway 14 that called out for safety improvements was west of Sooke. Details of that project are highlighted by MOTI:
“Eleven kilometers of shoulder are being widened with a 1.2 metre paved shoulder and resurfaced between Otter Point Road and Woodhaven Road. There will also be slow moving vehicle pullouts constructed for both westbound and eastbound traffic. This project is 90% constructed and will be completed by early summer 2022.”
Construction of six new BC Transit bus stops with shelters between Langford, Westshore Parkway and Sooke was completed in 2018.
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===== RELATED ARTICLES by Island Social Trends:
Teen killed on Hwy 14 on icy new year Monday (January 4, 2022)
Langford traffic: Rainy-day vehicle accident on Sooke Road near Humpback (December 30, 2020)
Sooke Road: Hwy 14 traffic slow-down Nov 21 & 23 (November 20, 2020)
Gridlock on Highway 14 while Premier in Sooke (April 27, 2019)
Horgan delivers for Sooke: Highway 14 to be widened near 17-Mile (April 23, 2019)
Highway 14 improvements at Sooke River Road (February 22, 2019)
Construction continues on Hwy 14 at Sooke River Road (January 20, 2019)
Traffic lights coming to Hwy 14 at Sooke River Road (November 28, 2018)