An alternative detour route for the Malahat isn’t coming down the pipeline anytime soon, according to a newly released study by the Ministry of Transportation.
“All routes were determined to have environmental, engineering, property and community disruption impacts — some to greater degrees than others,” according to the press release.
The report looked at seven possible emergency routes that could be activated during long highway closures.
The release pointed out that closures on the Malahat long enough to trigger calls for a detour were too infrequent, around 1.1 incidents a year on average.
Approximately 22,000 vehicles travel through the traffic artery daily.
Since 2009, there have been 40 closures on the Malahat, of which seven were longer than four hours. The longest was 21 hours.
The Pacific Marine Circle Route, which takes an extra three and a half hours to drive, remains the main detour in the event of a long highway closure.
“We have to stop focusing on what we can’t control, like mother nature, and instead focus on what we can,” said Chris Foord, CRD Vice-Chair of CRD Traffic Safety Commission.
Foord pointed out that speed is one of his biggest concerns that affect closures.
More than a dozen vehicles were impounded for seven days on Sunday, Dec. 8 for excessive speed while travelling southbound on the Malahat into Victoria.
“We only put about five hours enforcement out there, and if you do the math we’re getting almost [four] an hour,” said Ron Cronk, Acting Staff Sgt. for the CRD’s Integrated Road Safety Unit. He added that it’s a continuous problem for that stretch of the highway.
This doesn’t include the multiple instances semi-trucks have had trouble along the narrow route.
Last month, a confused semi driver went the wrong way on the Malahat and backed up traffic in both directions on Nov. 12. Then, a stalled truck near Ice Cream Mountain heavily delayed southbound traffic on Nov. 28.
Mother nature and the Malahat aren’t strangers. On Nov. 17, a small rockslide stopped northbound lanes for four hours and on Nov. 27, a fallen tree paused northbound lanes for two hours.
Currently, work is underway on a project to widen Highway 1 between Leigh Road and the West Shore Parkway, which will include adding a centre median barrier.
The province is also looking at adding 1.5 kilometres of median barrier to the highway north of the West Shore Parkway to just north of Finlayson Arm Road.
Read the full report at bit.ly/malahatstudy.