If a large rockslide closed the Malahat for more than a day, would the province have a long-term solution in place? That’s the question Chris Foord wants answered.
As the vice-chair of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Traffic Safety Commission, he’s critical of a study that the Ministry of Transportation began into alternative detour routes for the Malahat.
“Vancouver Island traffic is like an hourglass,” Foord said. “It doesn’t matter how big the ends are, it’s the pinch point which is a single-lane stretch through the Goldstream Park area. We should be smart enough to figure out a solution to our problem before the worst happens. It’ll probably take a rockslide to close the route for 10 days to get any reaction, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
The Ministry of Transportation is expected to release its study at the end of the month.
Last month, Malahat traffic came to a standstill twice. 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.
This doesn’t include the multiple instances semi-trucks have had trouble along the narrow route.
Recently, a confused semi driver went the wrong way on the Malahat and backed up traffic in both directions on Nov. 12. Then, a stalledtruck near Ice Cream Mountain heavily delayed southbound traffic on Nov. 28.
Approximately 22,000 vehicles travel through the traffic artery daily.
“To my understanding, they are looking for a bypass route through the CRD watershed where the Sooke Reservoir is located, and that’s a big concern to me,” Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director, told Black Press Media earlier this year.
“They don’t let anyone into the watershed, except maybe some First Nations people for hunting purposes, so opening it up and maybe having trucks rolling through there is a really big concern. Anything getting into that water is a big concern.”
Hicks pointed out that due to the nature of the area, the CRD doesn’t end up spending many millions of dollars on chemical treatment and filtration.
The Ministry of Transportation did not respond to a request for comments before deadline.
– with files from Tim Collins