Malahat Safety Improvements: Round Two

It’s full steam ahead for a second round of safety improvements on the Malahat, with work expected to kick off in May and finish in the spring of 2015.

Once this work is completed, over 50% of the Malahat will have median barriers. These improvements were identified in the 2012 Malahat Corridor study, and were also identified as a priority by the Malahat Advisory Group, which includes local residents, commuters, first responders and safety advocates.

3987-Malahat_Corridor_Project_smThose upgrades we’re planning include:

  • extension of the southbound passing lane and median barrier of “NASCAR Corner” (as known to locals)
  • continuation of median barriers immediately north and south of this area.
  • constructing U-turns on the side of the highway at either end of the new barrier, located at the side of Shawnigan Lake road and on the side of the highway north of the summit

Safety of the travelling public is our number one priority, but improving safety with median barriers does affect access to some properties so that’s the reason behind the U-turn lanes. They can be used by both emergency vehicles and other motorists trying to get to homes and businesses along that stretch of the highway.

Because this is a very large project, motorists can expect delays during construction. We will do our very best to let you know in advance of any delays via DriveBC and will try to keep those interruptions to the absolute minimum. Once a work schedule is in place, we will share it with you here.

With any news of Vancouver Island and transportation, we should also mention the Vancouver Island Transportation Plan, which we’ll be consulting with you about really soon. We want to hear from you on how we can improve the safety and mobility of travel on the island, by land, rail, air and sea, helping us to outline the government’s priorities for the next 10 years.

Do you have a question that isn’t answered here? Let us know in the comments below and we will try to get an answer for you.

Page 1 of 38 comments on “Malahat Safety Improvements: Round Two”

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  1. If I am reading this correctly I will not be able to turn left onto Whittaker Road from the northbound lane just past the South Shawnigan Lake turn off. Yet there are no barriers around the corner at the Malahat gas station. I will now have to utilize a turn around and cross over both lanes of traffic. Who thought thiabwas a good idea?

    Reply
    • Hello K,

      We shared your concern with the project manager and they let us know that Whitaker Rd movements will all still be possible post construction (i.e., the northbound left turn into Whitaker will still remain with a left turn lane). The intersection itself is being realigned a bit further south. The left turn out of Whitaker will also remain. Holker becomes a fully channelized right in, right out intersection (as it is currently signed) located directly across from the new Whitaker Rd alignment. As with all major highway projects, the ministry looked at the existing intersections to ensure they are up to current safety and engineering standards and it was determined this work will improve safety and visibility for motorists approaching the highway and residents accessing the highway. Hope that this helps!

      Reply
      • I appreciate the addition of a median and extra passing lane but I don’t feel good about the Whittaker Road intersection improvement at all.

        I don’t see how moving Whitaker Road into the middle of a double merge section (both existing north and new south) will help those turning left out of Whittaker. To truly make this intersection safer a protected T intersection should be built to help left turns out of Whitaker. This new layout will actually make left turns more challenging with a median affecting the sight-lines looking right and two lanes merging to one coming from the left.

        Why was there no public consultation on this project with local residents?

        Reply
        • Hi Christian,

          We spoke with the project manager and here is his response.

          The residents of Whittaker Road were not consulted about this work, as it will not result in any loss of turning movements in or out of Whitaker Rd. The new configuration brings the intersection up to current engineering standards including required site lines. The construction of a Protected T style intersection was reviewed and determined to not be warranted at this time. Should you have any further questions, our Ministry Project Manager, Darren Englund Darren.Englund@gov.bc.ca, would be happy to discuss.

          Reply
  2. I live in Shawnigan Lake and work in Victoria. Being a long time user of the highway, I appreciate the government’s efforts to continue improvements to the Malahat. And I also appreciate the efforts to minimize stoppages to traffic during peak commuting times this time. However, I do have a request to make this much more tolerable to us Shawinigan Lake residents.

    For the past couple of days after 6pm there have been traffic stoppages going north right at the south Shawnigan turn-off. For traffic control they have funnelled the northbound traffic into one lane and stopped all traffic for periods of time. Given that the construction is occurring north of the south Shawnigan turn-off, I would strongly request that they allow traffic destined for Shawnigan Lake through the south Shawnigan turn-off to continue in the left lane and only stop the other northbound traffic in the right lane. This would eliminate the Shawnigan Lake bound traffic from having to stop and be delayed unnecessarily.

    Reply
    • Hi Dave. Thanks for connecting. By now, you’ve received a response to your email from project manager Darren Englund. We realize others may be wondering the same thing, so we’ve copied Darren’s explanation here:

      “This has been brought up before and is considered each time we undertake work near Shawnigan Lake Rd requiring full stoppages. However, relative to these past couple days of work, as they are occurring through the night, we require light stands to be setup to illuminate the flag person. As such, the flaggers do not move along the site during the night works, although the equipment working is moving all along the project length. The flaggers stay in the same location all night stopping traffic in the same location for this lighting reason.

      The location chosen south of Shawnigan Lake Rd offers the best site distance to the stoppage and lane merge, as well as the best grade to allow stopped highway traffic (larger vehicles) to accelerate on before reaching the steeper grade north of Shawnigan. This results in reduced delay times for the majority of northbound highway traffic. The northbound lanes are required to be merged into one lane before a flagger is allowed to stop traffic. If the stoppage location was moved north, under the current tree falling operations, the closest that stop point could be located would be right adjacent the middle of the left turn lane into Shawnigan Lake Rd. As soon as a dozen or so highway vehicles came to a stop, they would be blocking the left turn lane into Shawnigan, essentially creating the same traffic issue that you’ve raised.

      Also, in regards to your comment about allowing the left lane to be used to let traffic continue on and turn left at Shawnigan, we are not able to allow a lane of traffic to pass a flagger during a closure for safety reasons, the reason being that a driver may pass the flagger and, rather than turning left into Shawnigan, just continue north along the highway with the flaggers being unaware. This puts both that vehicle and all the crew working in danger. Currently, the reason for the stoppages is so trees can be felled adjacent the highway. To avoid risk to public, traffic is stopped while the trees come down.

      I will bring this request up with our project team again and ensure it is considered whenever it is reasonable to do so, as we are, and will continue to be, striving to reduce traffic impacts wherever possible.”

      Reply
  3. Why extend the south bound passing lane 1km? So you will then have a longer stretch for the hurry-up-and-wait idiots to accelerate **downhill** then merging a few hundered metres before vehicles from Shawnigan Lake rd. merge…?!? Good thing you have the new divider S. of Shawnigan Lake road, as it will be used often. Expect many more violent rear-enders of Shawnigan Lake mergers who don’t get up to the posted+30km/h speeds of the hurry-up-and-wait idiots who have just passed everyone on the just more-NASCARed NASCAR corner.

    Reply
  4. Hello,

    How will cycling conditions on the Malahat be improved through this project? As you’re likely aware conditions in the past have been poor – narrow shoulders, poorly installed rumble strips and unswept debris.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Peter,

      We sent the Project Manager on the Malahat Safety Improvement project your question and here is what they had to say:

      “During construction of Phase 2 of the Malahat Safety Improvement Project, accommodation of cyclists is required and our contractor is to clear any debris from the hwy travelled surfaces, including where cyclists ride through the construction area. One major benefit we are bringing to this current section of the Malahat is consistent paved shoulder widths. Where there are two lanes in the same direction of travel, we will be implementing 2.0m wide paved shoulders. Where only one lane in the direction of travel, the shoulder widths will be 2.5m. Adjacent auxiliary lanes like accel and decel lanes, the shoulder width will be 1.5m paved. Most shoulder areas within this section of the Malahat will have roadside concrete barriers adjacent. Also, our shoulder rumble strips are installed to standard across the province.”

      Hope this helps. Thanks for taking the time to connect with us.

      Reply