Three new bus pullouts, a new two-lane bridge on Gillespie Road, a bus-queue jump lane, new safety signs, a slow moving vehicle pull out and a rest area, were the improvements announced for Highway 14 by Premier John Horgan today in Sooke.
Construction on the $10 million project is set to begin immediately, and is intended to improve the safety of the road, reduce congestion and increase traffic flow.
“Accelerating safety projects on Highway 14 ensures everyone, whether drivers, cyclists, pedestrians or transit users, can move around the Capital Regional District quickly and safely whatever their preferred travel mode,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure in a press release.
“Local residents and businesses have been asking for traffic improvements in this growing region, and we’re responding by getting to work right away on a suite of upgrades that will have big impact, quickly, with more improvements on the horizon.”
The bus pullouts will be on both sides of the highway located at the West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road and Harbourview Road, the jump lane will be at Jacklin Road, the slow-moving vehicle pullout will be put east of Muir Creek, between Sooke and French Beach, and the new rest area will be at the Sombrio lookout. Gillespie Road is an important alternate route for Sooke Road, and the new two-lane bridge will help move traffic along.
“For too long, people on the West Shore have been frustrated by mounting congestion and traffic bottlenecks,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.
“Highway 14 is an essential connection for people on southern Vancouver Island, and we’re making travel safer and less stressful so people can spend more time with their families, instead of sitting in traffic.”
Horgan added that LED lights will be installed at 18 different intersections, including all the light fixtures on Sooke River Road and at the Sooke Park and Ride to brighten up the highway, speed reader signs will be placed at Parkland Road, and wider brushes will be used to paint the road lines this spring.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait said she was very grateful to hear the announcements made, and this is just the beginning for the improvements.
“I know $10 million won’t go very far, but it is a start,” said Tait. “This automatically fills me with a sense of relief that work is going to be getting underway, and the road is finally getting the attention it deserves.”
Tait believes the next phases of improvements should focus on smoothing out and widening the road, and Langford Mayor Stew Young agrees.
“This infrastructure was built for 5000 people, it wasn’t built for 15-20,000,” said Young. “Every little bit of work done will improve the road for the people that live out here, and then you can accommodate the growth that is coming to Sooke.”
He said first these improvements will get done to improve the safety of the road and help the traffic flow, and phase two is when the government should start looking at making the road in to a four lane highway.
“The best money you can spend as a politician is on infrastructure, it helps build your community and it’s good for the economy,” said Young. “People will be more likely to move out to Sooke as it gets easier to travel back and forth along that highway.”
He added that the upgrades to the road will help link Sooke not only to Langford, but to the Down Town Core, and will drive more tourism in Sooke’s direction.
Horgan said next phases of work for Sooke Road will be announced later this year, based on community feedback and further engineering work, and “will focus on major intersection upgrades, passing opportunities, improving the highway alignment, widening highway shoulders for cyclists and additional transit-related upgrades.”
David Evans, member of the #dividedby14 campaign, and owner of Stick in the Mud Coffee in Sooke, said the announced upgrades are a marvellous step forward for the road.
“I think the mayor, council, and everyone who worked so hard to make this happen, deserve a huge debt of gratitude from everyone in Sooke,” said Evans.
Design work for the Sooke River Road intersection upgrade is also planned to start immediately.
Once construction begins on the road, the Ministry will try to ensure traffic delays are kept minimal, especially during high traffic hours. Drivers are asked to watch for and obey traffic control workers.
Up-to-date traffic advisories can be found at drivebc.ca.