Land buys on the table as Sooke Road/Highway 14 re-alignment draws closer
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published March 13, 2019
The Ministry of Transportation (MoT) has begun engagement proceedings with landowners who may be affected by upcoming Highway 14 road improvements and expansion plans, Citified has learned.
The news comes amid the province’s efforts to enhance the safety and security of road users dependent on the two-lane highway connecting Victoria’s Westshore municipalities of Sooke, Metchosin and Langford, and continuing on to Port Renfrew some 70 kilometers beyond Sooke.
“The project team has begun discussions with potentially-affected property owners as part of the planning process for future improvements,” reads as statement issued by the MoT.
The ministry prepared its response to Citified following an enquiry into the status of land purchases and property assembly opportunities presented to multiple landowners who made their discussions with the MoT known to Citified.
Although the province has yet to identify which routing options it will pursue in its efforts to improve safety along notoriously windy sections of the highway, or whether a new route to the north will replace the existing highway as the primary access road to Sooke, several alignment scenarios have been identified in a planning document released in 2018.
Starting from the east, and MoT has hypothesized a streamlined routing south of the existing highway between Impala Road and Connie Road. From Connie Road the routing would run north of the current highway to Glinz Lake Road, from where it would travel further north of the highway between the 17 Mile Pub and Saseenos.
It is along these three potential realignments that landowners, reportedly, are in the early stages of land sale negotiations.
A brand new highway has also been posited as an option, although it is seen as an unlikely solution over the near and medium terms.
Its route is envisioned as spanning from the four-lane portion of Sooke Road to Sooke River Road where it would connect with the existing highway. However, such an alternate roadway so far to the north would be required to traverse higher terrain and this would expose motorists to winter driving conditions throughout the fall and winter months.
|Potential re-alignment options along some of Sooke Road/Highway 14's windiest portions between Langford and Sooke. The blue dotted lines indicate the potential new alignments, while the thick red line indicates a high crash zone. The purple line identifies the transition from Sooke Road serving as a rural highway and an urban highway. Ministry of Transportation |
Such a route would be faced with environmental and engineering challenges, and would require an extended period for planning, design, financing and construction.
Improvements to Highway 14 were announced as a priority following the 2017 provincial election. Facing rapid growth and only a single east-west route to and from Sooke that is now accommodating over 16,000 vehicles per day, the province undertook near-term improvements that included six new transit bus shelters and accompanying transit bus pull-outs, safety signage improvements and fresh road paint.
|The routing of an alternate highway to the north of the existing Highway 14 routing. The new highway, crossing taller terrain, could experience winter driving conditions during the cooler months and would require a significant budget. Ministry of Transportation |
The province also replaced the Gillespie Road bridge at Roche Cove near the Sooke and East Sooke border which was as a single-lane crossing that became a significant point of congestion during Sooke Road closures and subsequent detours.
West of Sooke, a new rest area near the Sombrio River was built and a slow vehicle pull-out lane was added near Muir Creek.
Ahead of major road work that could see the corridor re-routed, workers have begun improvements to the Sooke River Road intersection near Sooke’s town centre and transit priority lanes along Highway 14 at Jacklin Road in Langford to help buses transition through the congested intersection.
Both road work projects are expected to be completed by mid-2019.
Alternate routing for Highway 14 and potential construction timelines remain unknown at this time. C
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