Friday November 25, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Last updated 11:15 am November 29, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Highway Traffic Updates (Sooke & west shore)
Now that nightfall comes much sooner in late November, it has been particularly challenging for drivers to navigate safely through the Highway 14 construction zone between Langford and Sooke.
The 2.3 km stretch of Highway 14 between Connie Road and Glinz Lake Road this week was additionally challenging for drivers in the rain, through a series of traffic cones (some of them barrel-size) with minimal to no line painting (with some incorrect lines leftover from previous routes), just a few reflective chips between temporary lanes, and no overhead lighting.
After experiencing that route in the rain on Tuesday evening, Island Social Trends also heard from others who commute Langford to Sooke that (even with large vehicles) they also found it challenging, some wondering why — on such a major thoroughfare — that there are “only a few (reflective) chips” and that no lighting.
Some public comments:
- “I’m lucky I can choose not to drive in the dark/rain. I hear many complaints.” ~ Kim Poirier (on Facebook)
- “I’ve driven this road for years, and still find this horrible. You can’t see a single thing at night and then ones are spaced out almost at random. Glad changes are coming.” ~ Markus Meyer (on Twitter)
- “It’s horrible driving home at night from town. I’ve been lucky it hasn’t been raining or foggy. Even at that, poorly marked and hard to figure out where to turn off to go to Gillespie with the cones in such weird placements.” ~ Jeri Grant (on Facebook)
- “I’ve driven it twice in the last few nights and I was glad someone was leading through the less obvious places.” ~ Ross Reid (on Facebook)
- “It’s definitely not right! Yikes!” ~ Hedy Lundbradasch (on Facebook)
- “It’s horrible. Early morning commuters are almost at a standstill as everyone navigates the lanes/darkness…”. ~ Leona Lewco (on Facebook)
- “It is quite frightening to young and old. Hear from all ages. Very confusing and dangerous drop offs unmarked.” ~ Ellen Lewers (on LinkedIn)
One-route in and out:
Highway 14 is essentially the only route in and out of Sooke, population about 15,000. Many residents are commuters, and much business is done between Sooke and the rest of the Greater Victoria area which lies 20 km (Langford) or 35 km (Saanich/Victoria) to the east of Sooke.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), traffic volume is approximately 17,000 vehicles per day, and says that ensuring safety is a priority.
Lighting coming soon says MOTI:
In response to a query from Island Social Trends, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has responded today, November 25:
- The contractor will soon be adding lighting to portions of Highway 14 through the project site to improve visibility and safety for drivers. Power will be brought to the site over the next few days and lighting will follow, starting with the Glinz Road intersection.
- The contractor is also working to improve road markings through the project.
- Steady progress continues on the project. Paving of eastbound sections is underway, weather-dependent. Drivers are reminded to use caution through the project, and obey signage and traffic control personnel. Drivers are reminded that the speed limit through the construction zone is 50 km/hr.
The Highway 14 improvement project was finally ushered in through the political sway of the MLA John Horgan (when he was Premier), first announced in 2019. This summer there was a significant shift in the route when a loop was added for on/off traffic to Gillespie Road.
Completion of the project was first set for summer 2022 but with pandemic-related impacts (supply chain, worker availability), improvements to the corridor are posted by MOTI as “expected to be completed by fall 2022”. We’re almost now at December.
“Installation of overhead lights to ensure high visibility at night” was already listed in the Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road project profile.
The website for the project was last updated on October 7, 2022 saying that final completion of the project is aiming now for March 2023.
At present on the MOTI website: “The Highway 14 Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road project is working to ensure there are four paved lanes on the new Highway 14 alignment (two eastbound and two westbound) by end of November 2022.”
Project scope & funding:
The Connie Road to Glinz Lake Road improvements (together with the Otter Point Road to Woodhaven Road project further to the west) represent a total government investment of $85.7 million, with the Government of Canada contributing up to $30.2 million through the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component-National and Regional Projects and the Government of British Columbia providing the balance of $55.5 million.
Note that today’s (November 25, 2022) Second Quarter fiscal update delivered by Finance Minister Selina Robinson includes a line item for the “Highway 14 Corridor improvements” project with a “final anticipated total cost” as $77 million. That’s the BC portion being about $20 million more than the original $55.5 million estimate; delays due to the pandemic slowdowns could certainly be part of that.
The MOTI web page about the Highway 14 improvement project (combined with other projects) shows a further $35 million has been invested in other projects, stated as bringing the total Highway 14 corridor investment to over $120 million since 2017.
The project includes:
- A new bridge structure to accommodate the new access for Gillespie Road
- Placement of concrete roadside and median barriers to enhance safety for highway users
- Upgrades to Hydro, TELUS, Shaw Communications infrastructure throughout the project limits of construction
- All utilities now on a single line of poles
- Shaw installed a single line of fiber optic cable throughout the project rather than splice connecting segments
The project also includes commuter parking and a bus loading area as part of adding “better connections to public transit and active transportation routes”. Construction of a 45-vehicle parking stall Park and Ride with provision for eight EV charging stations is in the project profile. As well as:
- Construction of a pedestrian walkway under Highway 14 between bus stops
- Construction of BC Transit pullouts to ensure no interruptions in traffic flow
Being in a heavily forested rural area, that stretch of new highway is also going to include:
- Construction of a wildlife underpass
- Construction of wetland environmental protection areas to support and promote plant, fish and amphibious environments
History of crashes:
Given the serious and numerous motor vehicle incidents in that stretch of highway including near the 17 Mile House Pub (including one fatal accident in January 2009 in that stretch on a heavily rainy day) drivers will welcome the “upgrades to drainage to be more resilient to extreme rain and flooding events”.
===== RELATED ARTICLES about HIGHWAY 14:
Highway 14 construction milestone on July 19 (July 18, 2022)
Highway 14 upgrade continues into Summer 2022 (May 24, 2022)
Teen killed on Hwy 14 on icy new year Monday (January 4, 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)
Highway 14 closed west of Sooke due to downed trees (February 10, 2019)
Highway 14 access in-out of Sooke blocked February 9 (February 9, 2019)
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is a professional news portal at islandsocialtrends.ca . Fully online since mid-2020, Island Social Trends emerged from the extensive groundwork of previous print publications in the west shore: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).
Since 2008, journalist and editor Mary P Brooke has taken a socioeconomic lens to the news of the west shore and south Vancouver Island region, including BC provincial news, and national news impacts. [See Island Social Trends Politics Archive].