Thursday December 15, 2022 | SOOKE, BC [Updated December 16, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
READER COMMENTS WELCOME: email to firstname.lastname@example.org (See readers comments below this article)
The construction zone on Highway 14 for 2.3 km between Connie Road and Glinz Lake Road continues to require caution by drivers as they make their way going either east from Langford to Sooke, or west from Sooke into Greater Victoria.
Last week in driving that stretch two times — both ways, Island Social Trends observed that whether in daylight or at night there were still peculiar driving safety challenges. In previous weeks, during rain the navigation of that stretch was even more challenging (see reader comments about Highway 14 construction zone).
These challenges primarily have to do with painted lines remaining from previous renditions of the highway as well as the irregular placement of traffic cones, and the visual-field distraction of the paved-and-ready new lanes that will eventually make for a 4-lane stretch.
Weather too cold and wet for line painting & reflectors:
The new paved lanes alongside the construction zone are paved and ready for line painting, says Kyle Webb, Project Manager with Windley Contracting Ltd. The problem is the weather.
The weather has been too cold for the paint to stick — in fact, the paint inside the line painting machine froze up on the last line-painting attempt, says Webb.
The weather has also too cold to remove previous lines with the best sort of process. Cold weather is expected to continue well through to Christmas.
A second-option method used last week involves grinding into the asphalt and leaves a “shadow” (still an image of) the previous lines.
On Thursday and Sunday last week, these were the line conditions as observed by Island Social Trends:
Heading west (from Langford to Sooke):
- Entry point to the construction zone has a series of white diagonal lines that appear to lead the driver off the road, or that the driver has suddenly met a dead end.
- A short way into the construction zone there is a white curved line that crosses the road (leftover from a previous version of the road).
- About half way into the construction there is a curved line that crosses the road (leftover from previous)
- Near the exit of that stretch there is an orange curved line which is contrary to the direction of travel.
Heading east (from Sooke toward Langford):
There are three curved lines across the road that are contrary to the direction of travel:
The weather is also too cold and/or wet to properly affix the ‘cat’s eyes’ (reflectors used down the center between lanes; normally they are ground into the pavement for a secure hold.
Webb says some reflectors will be put in place tomorrow (December 16) but with snow coming this weekend, the snow removal equipment might end up tearing some of the reflectors off.
Windley Contracting has communicated with Emcon Services Inc (the highway maintenance contractor) and the District of Sooke, asking them to “be aware as best they can” about not disturbing the reflectors when plowing snow.
But any reflectors that get damaged or removed will be replaced after the snow clears, said Webb today in a phone interview with Island Social Trends.
Temporary can still be safe:
A construction zone is temporary, but with a significant travel load on that road (approximately 17,000 vehicles daily according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) many drivers are likely still finding the trip more stressful (and potentially dangerous) than it needs to be.
Most good drivers can negotiate these conditions, and will self-correct for the conditions. But the driving conditions are likely to still be experienced as substandard.
In addition to the inattention to removal of old painted lines, the positioning of traffic cones of varying sizes and types is a chaotic contributor to the driving experience. As other paved/road areas can be seen beyond the cones, at night in rain it can be disorienting as to where the correct lane is.
Lighting was recently improved:
“Illumination came on this week,” says Webb. According to the Windley Contracting project manager, the construction zone is “brighter than many spots on Highway 14” now, with additional lighting recently installed at the Gillespie Road intersection and at Glinz Lake Road.
“It’s now hugely bright around that whole area,” says Webb.
Response from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI):
Island Social Trends last traveled the road on December 11. We asked MOTI a few questions about all this. As of December 14, they said the misplaced (old) lines had been removed. On December 15 Windley Contracting says the current conditions as seen December 11 were *after* the less-preferred line removal technique had been used due to cold wet weather (and yet several of the old lines are still visible).
These were the other MOTI responses on December 14:
- How much longer the current setup will be in place? MOTI: “The construction zone will be in place until construction is complete.”
- Can some of the old directional lines (white / orange) be paved over or otherwise eliminated? MOTI: “Recent work has included removing all the old paint lines and fully lighting the intersections at Gillespie and Glinz roads.”
- Could there be signs put up along the construction zone indicating ‘single lane’ (to help drivers orient to the inconsistent driving parameters as described above? MOTI: “The construction zone is well signed with ongoing traffic control personnel on site as required.”
- As the construction is continuing for a few more months, has ICBC been asked to assess the situation (as to road safety)? MOTI: The RCMP and the ministry’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement branch are monitoring the 50 km/h construction speed limit to ensure road safety. ICBC does not assess traffic management on construction projects.
Input from the District of Sooke:
As the highway is a provincial responsibility, it’s not too surprising to hear that the District of Sooke has not received any calls on this item.
Meanwhile, the municipality says it has “reached out to Windley Contracting given discussions observed on social media to ensure resident concerns are directed to the appropriate avenue”.
“We understand from Windley that additional illumination is in place with more to come,” says Christina Moog, Communications Coordinator, District of Sooke.
“However, it is a construction zone,” she says. “As always, drivers should remain vigilant to changing conditions and adhere to posted signage and traffic control measures in place.”
The District of Sooke says that it is “important that persons continue to contact Windley with questions; they are very responsive and can be reached at 250.758.3411”.
Four-lane painting in the new year:
Realistically, the lane painting in the Highway 14 construction zone won’t happen now until the new year.
According to Windley Contracting that’s because the weather needs to be dry and also warmer than it’s expected in the forecast for the rest of December.
As well, MOTI staff and others are into the holiday season. Webb feels that non-disruption of the usual traffic pattern (any more than it already is) is not desirable during the holiday season, especially for visitors and tourists who might not normally travel Highway 14.
It’s unknown at this point whether the target March/spring 2023 completion deadline is still within reach, given the weather-related delays in the past month or two.
===== READER COMMENTS: [Send your reader comments by email to email@example.com]
Dec 15: “Maybe they could turn their attention to the massive potholes and drop offs on the old road in front of the 17 mile. Some of those are really deep and hard to see at night. A whole community has to travel that section every day and it’s disgraceful.” ~ Dave Baines (Facebook)
Nov 25 to 29:
- “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)
ARCHIVE: TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION
Hwy 14: Nov 29 winter construction zone update (November 29, 2022)
Lighting being added to Hwy 14 construction zone (November 25, 2022)
Highway 14 construction milestone on July 19 (July 18, 2022)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends has been covering news of the Sooke region and west shore of Greater Victoria 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 the publication to cover the full South Vancouver Island Region with the IslandSocialTrends.ca news portal in mid-2020.