The permanent closure of the Spencer Road access to the Trans Canada Highway in Langford happens Monday (July 6) and some area residents are up in arms at the speed of the decision.
“That’s the shortest and easiest route (onto the TCH) for any of us on this side of the highway,” said Mark Ward, adding that anyone concerned about the closure needs to get off their hands and be heard. “The only way to keep this road open is some action.”
He believes the City of Langford is not looking out for its residents, by taking away what he says is the safest highway access road in the growing West Shore area.
The Spencer Road dead-ending is being done as part of the Leigh Road Interchange Project. That undertaking began in 2007 and was originally intended to link Bear Mountain with the highway. The bridge portion was completed in June 2009, but work was halted in 2010 due to the economic climate. Work began again in the fall of 2011 and by June 2013 the interchange opened to traffic, with the exception of a southbound off-ramp from the TCH.
While Ward claims he was told no traffic reports were done before the city decided to close the Spencer access to the public, director of engineering Michelle Mahovlich confirmed that the Spencer access was included in studies conducted for the Leigh Road project. As well, she said it was considered in conjunction with studies done on the Langford corridor.
The most recent studies were done in 2012 and 2013, she said.
“Ministry policy is to limit access points to major highways to keep traffic flowing,” Mahovlich said.
City officials plan to continue to use the Spencer Road and Goldstream Avenue accesses for emergency situations and they will be equipped with proper fire gates, she said.
Ward questions how the Spencer closure and creation of a Leigh Road southbound off-ramp will create better traffic flow through Langford. “They’re two separate issues really.”
Currently southbound highway traffic must contend with large volumes of vehicles entering the highway off Veteran’s Memorial Parkway, which is generally where the “Colwood Crawl” morning commute begins.
The next step in this project will see that off-ramp completed, allowing vehicles to exit at Leigh Road. When this section of work is finished, the exit onto Goldstream Avenue will also be closed.
While land clearing has been done on the site, the construction contract for the Leigh Road off-ramp is expected to be awarded this month, with the work expected to begin in August.
The final portion of this project will see an acceleration lane built on the Trans Canada Highway southbound from West Shore Parkway.