Use of this crosswalk on Sooke Road near the Luxton Fairgrounds can create a hazard for westbound drivers who are blinded by late afternoon sun and unable to see the lights

Use of this crosswalk on Sooke Road near the Luxton Fairgrounds can create a hazard for westbound drivers who are blinded by late afternoon sun and unable to see the lights

Sooke Road stretch can be dangerous, say area residents

Jan. 31 head-on crash no surprise to nearby homeowners

A pair of Sooke Road residents who live near the Luxton Fairgrounds weren’t surprised when they came home to see a crumpled car and a damaged logging truck along the busy thoroughfare last Tuesday (Jan. 31).

It’s still unclear what caused that collision, which sent three to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. But according to neighbours Trever Emery and Kim DuPont, that stretch of road is ripe with speeders and other issues that make it a dangerous route for motorists and pedestrians.

“(Collisions) are a pretty common occurrence along here,” Emery said, adding that he’s seen at least one serious accident per year on average since he moved into his home in 2008.

According to ICBC crash data, the Sooke Road and Happy Valley Road intersection is Langford’s second worst when it comes to crashes, with 165 recorded from 2011 to 2015. Sooke and Luxton Road saw 22 crashes over the time period, while 34 took place between the two intersections, with the majority taking place at Glen Lake Road.

There are several issues with the stretch which combine to make it a problematic section of Highway 14.

First and foremost, drivers tend to speed along this straight stretch, which may have the feel of a highway but is flanked by houses on both sides.

The posted speed limit is 60 km/h, but it’s often broken, according to DuPont.

“People are speeding and I’ve been fighting with the minister’s office of highways and West Shore RCMP to get speed traps, anything. Nothing’s happened,” he said. “There’s two schools in the neighbourhood … it’s a recipe for disaster.”

While a lowering of the limit might help, Emery said increased enforcement of the existing limit is needed, having never witnessed a police speed trap along this stretch of road.

Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for West Shore RCMP, wrote in an e-mail that the detachment bases its traffic enforcement in areas that are prone to collisions and also has a Speed Watch program which is operated by volunteers.

“They are also deployed based on areas that are subject (to) complaint by West Shore residents,” he wrote.

The speeding issue is compounded during the afternoon rush when the setting sun wreaks havoc for westbound drivers. This is the biggest problem, in Emery’s opinion.

“You get going on that line where it drives right into the sun on the way out. When the sunshine comes straight down Sooke Road, it’s very hard to see,” he said.

Last Tuesday’s crash occurred a little after 3 p.m. on a sunny day.

A pedestrian crossing is also problematic, Emery noted, as drivers are often forced to slam on the brakes once the crossing is activated, creating a dangerous scenario for trailing motorists. “People get ripping down there, 60 or 70 km/h and someone pushes a button … I’ve seen so many close calls as well as bad accidents and most are related to people just not paying attention.”

In a written response to the Gazette’s query, the Ministry of Transportation, which has jurisdiction on the route, detailed that it has “(begun) a corridor study to review the current condition and performance of Highway 14 between Langford and Sooke, including reviewing crash statistics and information such as crash investigation results and traffic volumes.”

The review is expected to be completed later this spring and discussions are expected to continue with regards to possible improvements to the route.

The province has invested $7 million over the past five years towards Highway 14 improvements between Langford and Sooke.

Construction is underway for a digital overhead sign near the future connection with West Shore Parkway, which will provide information regarding delays and road conditions. That project is also expected to be completed this spring.

Emery is hopeful that the opening of the West Shore Parkway extension, scheduled for later this year, will help alleviate traffic in his neighbourhood.

“I’m really hoping that that will slow things down.”

More information on the RCMP’s Speed Watch program can be found at westshore.rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

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