Malahat closed in both directions during a rockslide. (Instagram/bokarrasvlogs)

Malahat closed in both directions during a rockslide. (Instagram/bokarrasvlogs)

EDITORIAL: Island traffic strategy lacks key initiatives

Overpass installation and rail implementation needed

The province’s announcement that it’s launching a southern Vancouver Island transportation strategy is, of course, long overdue.

We’ve been through so many studies, lots of talk and no action that it’s getting ridiculous. Attempts to upgrade the southern portion of the Trans-Canada Highway should have been pursued at the same time as the Inland Island Highway from Parksville through to Campbell River, but fell by the wayside.

Now we’re in a bind. The TCH from Nanaimo south to Victoria is a mess.

The government acknowledges the infrastructure needs of the communities have been ignored for far too long. Addressing congestion and finding a solution to an emergency route when the Malahat is closed are key points.

A request for qualifications has been posted to design a multi-modal transportation plan for the region. The shortlisted consultants will be sent a request for proposals in February, with the successful proponent being identified by the end of March.

A report on the feasibility of a temporary activated Malahat emergency detour route is expected this spring.

Design work is also scheduled to start shortly on Goldstream Park and will explore building an additional 1.5 kilometres of median barrier.

This is all well and good, but still not solving two key issues: traffic lights and rail.

Interestingly, it’s been reported the Highway 1/McKenzie Interchange project will cut roughly 20 minutes off peak commute times when it opens to free-flowing traffic late this summer.

Has anyone figured out traffic lights need to be removed from every major intersection between Duncan and Victoria and overpasses installed in order to keep traffic moving? The more time that passes without that work being done, the higher the cost.

And the rail corridor has to be implemented somehow with a carefully formulated schedule so commuters and tourists alike can use it.

There’s lots of work yet to be done and the oversights might just put us back to square one all too soon.