It’s become an all too familiar experience for island drivers, inching down the Malahat Highway with no escape, waiting as crashed or stalled vehicles are being taken away.
“If somebody is sick, what do they do, you know or having a baby, you know you’re stuck,” said Claudia Montgomery, who’s lived near the top of the Malahat for nearly 20 years.
The latest incident came this morning around 11 a.m. after a vehicle travelling southbound near Goldstream Park went off the road into the ditch, hitting the rock wall and rolling over onto the driver side. The driver was the lone passenger and was not injured, but police say they’re investigating a possible impaired driving charge as the driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Ministry of Transportation spent the past year looking into seven alternate routes, but less than two weeks ago concluded that all seven had environmental, engineering, property and community disruption impacts.
It was certainly not the outcome residents were hoping for.
“Promises promises, yeah it gets a little old, it’s very sad I think,” Montgomery said.
The province’s report also stated that closures of the Malahat long enough to trigger a detour occur “relatively infrequently, at approximately 1.1 incidents per year on average.”
Since 2009, there have been 40 closures on the Malahat, of which seven were longer than four hours. The longest was 21 hours.
The government said work is underway on a project to widen Highway 1 between Leigh Road and the West Shore Parkway, which will include adding a centre median barrier. The province is also looking at adding 1.5 kilometres of a median barrier to the highway north of the West Shore Parkway to just north of Finlayson Arm Road. Engineering work is underway.
Today’s incident brought both north and southbound traffic to a halt for almost an hour, before reopening just after noon.