Wednesday June 9, 2021 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Some residents are speaking up about the high traffic volumes on Alouette Drive in the older original section of Westhills. Based on a realistic average of 10 cars per minute during the day (and also in evenings after events in the area, pre-COVID), that’s a traffic load of at least 600 cars per hour.
Alouette is essentially an extension of Glen Lake Road, and has been used as such for years. It’s part of the original suburban residential development where the streets are narrow and parking is available on only one side. Newer sections of Westhills have been constructed differently as they are not serviced by the underground geothermal heating and cooling system as well as hot water that the old section enjoys.
Other than views of hills beyond, there is only ‘urban landscaping’ along boulevards on Alouette and nearby streets. And even in some cases that has been chopped down (such as on Alouette last year) due to unforeseen drainage issues due to tree roots.
So Alouette is pretty much a concrete corridor, with resultant weather extremes. But the area is close to school(s), the stadium, sports fields and many commercial amenities, so it’s popular with families.
A second generation of planning:
Even though the City of Langford opened West Shore Parkway in 2017 — in part to siphon off traffic from Alouette and also from Jacklin Road — that never happened. All three roadways run parallel to each other, theoretically with the same opportunity for getting from Sooke Road/Hwy 14 over to Langford Parkway.
However, even with the narrow roads, drivers like the quiet convenience and steady traffic flow along the residential Alouette, compared to dealing with steep grades on the moutain-side West Shore Parkway and multiple stop-light intersections on the often congested commercial sections of Jacklin.
And when Leigh Road opened a couple of years ago at Langford Parkway — providing access to Highway 1 and Bear Mountain Parkway — the lure of Alouette increased even more.
There is also Langford’s only highschool (Belmont Secondary School) located right around the corner from Alouette, which adds to the traffic load by cars and also school buses.
Last year a new 4-way stop arrangement was installed at the corner of Alouette Drive and Langford Lake Road, to try and encourage full stops at that intersection, but rolling stops are still frequent on days with no road enforcement in sight but easily observed by pedestrians and residents. This was reported to the City of Langford Transportation Committee by Island Social Trends last year, upon which there was a response that traffic enforcement is up to the RCMP.
While residents are rightfully concerned about roadside safety — particularly for children playing in yards and on driveways in the neighbourhood, there is no incentive for drivers to not take this most direct and unfettered route from Sooke Road over to Langford Parkway.
With housing and residents in Langford increasing all the time, traffic loads on most roads continue to increase. Each year the City of Langford Engineering Department presents an increasingly higher maintenance budget to make sure that new infrastructure is maintained, and Council responsibly approves it.
Followup to come:
In coverage on CHEK-TV last night, Langford Mayor Stew Young said the city would be looking into something of an alternative route, but as yet it’s unclear what that could be in a fully built-up residential area.
A few years ago at a council meeting Mayor Young spoke briefly about a possible ‘back lane’ from Glen Lake Road to Langford Lake Road, as one way to divert traffic from Alouette. At the time that sounded like a laneway-style option, given the residential buildup of the area.
Given the high popularity of Alouette Drive as part of the traffic experience of the west shore, it will be very interesting to see what City of Langford Engineering comes up with as an alternative, if in fact there is one. Closing off Alouette to through-traffic would probably generate a fire-storm and generate even more pushback on the City than they are already getting over the roadside safety matters.
===== RELATED LINKS (articles by Island Social Trends):
- Local traffic: Langford Parkway left-turn lane extension to Leigh Road (April 12, 2021)
- New 4-way stop attempts traffic flow management at Alouette & Langford Lake (July 30, 2020)
- COVID morphs annual Langford car show into a cruise (August 14, 2020)
- Hwy 1 widening to four lanes Leigh Road to West Shore Parkway (September 22, 2019)