The province will spend $8 million adding 5.4 kilometres of extra concrete medians on the Malahat Drive.
Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom announced during a press conference Thursday that when construction is complete, more than 40 per cent of the ‘Hat will be separated with median barrier.
Five sections of the corridor will receive the barriers, with construction work scheduled to start next month and finish in the fall.
Other safety improvements include intersection upgrades at Finlayson Arm Road, Shawnigan Lake Road and the Malahat village, plus additional enforcement pullout areas, an advanced weather advisory system, and improved lighting, signage and roadside delineation.
The safety improvements were motivated by a community-driven effort to reduce crashes on the busy corridor, plus a safety review conducted by the ministry and engineer experts.
“I want to thank all of those who have contributed to our review of safety on the Malahat, particularly those law enforcement and safety advocates who passionately and respectfully voiced their concerns,” Lekstrom said in a prepared statement.
“There is some give and take, but immediately following the media barrier placement, there is some passing lane as well, so I think it will work,” he added at Thursday’s press conference. “It’s really focused on safety.”
Cowichanian Chelsey Dollman was one of the safety advocates who played a significant role in pushing for the improvements after she created a petition and Facebook group about the issue.
Ironically, she was almost in a collision on the Malahat Thursday morning as she travelled to the press conference.
“Someone had stopped dead in the fast-lane to turn left,” she said.
She thanked Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley for supporting her campaign to improve safety on the Malahat, and praised Lekstrom for making Malahat safety a priority.
“They’re starting at the end of April with the minimal construction, and then through June, July and August is when we’ll see the actual barriers go in, so everything should be done by this fall,” she said. “I’m really impressed with the speed they’ve put into this.”
Malahat Volunteer Fire Department chief Rob Patterson agreed.
“The infrastructure that’s going to be in place shortly this year is going to help the motoring public over the Malahat,” he said. “From a first responder’s standpoint, we see these crossovers far too often. It’s going to improve safety for each and every one of us.
“I don’t have to worry about cars crossing as often as they have in the past in the areas where we have had these time and time again.”
New Malahat barriers
– 2 km between Tunnel Hill and Aspen Road (road will also be widened)
– 1.4 km north of Finalyson Arm Road (northbound passing lane removed)
– 1 km south of Shawnigan Lake Road (road will also be widened)
– 500 m between Spencer Road and just north of the new Leigh Road overpass
– 400 m north of West Shore Parkway (road will also be widened)
Other safety improvements
– installation of a flashing beacon and intersection lighting, plus construction of a northbound acceleration lane at Finlayson Arm Road
– construction of a southbound acceleration lane at Shawnigan Lake Road
– construction of new acceleration and deceleration lanes, and enhanced signage, at Malahat Village (where the Malahat Mountain Inn is located)
– additional measures to prevent southbound access at Summit Lookout, Arbutus rest area and the Rock Cut view point
– additional enforcement pullout areas, enhanced lighting, an advanced weather warnign system and improved signage along the entire corridor