Malahat woes fuel calls for relief for drivers


WATCH: Long weekends are always welcome unless you find yourself stuck in a long line of slow-moving holiday traffic. The Malahat is often jammed up heading north out of Victoria.  Now some are calling for even more to be done to give motorists some relief.  Mary Griffin reports.

It’s just past noon, and traffic is building.

A line of vehicles snakes along Highway One, and it’s just the start of the long weekend.

The exodus out of town may be related to accidents that snarled traffic on the Malahat in July.

Two accidents, one northbound on the highway, the other southbound, occurred within a few hours of each other that month.

Joanne Stephenson moderates three of Facebook pages that focus on Malahat traffic.

“Shawnigan, Cobble Hill, Malahat road conditions. We now have 4750 members in that group.”

Stephanson reads the latest on Facebook about current conditions on the Malahat, and people are still posting about the gridlock on July 22nd.

That’s when two separate accidents shut down the highway for hours, in both directions.

“I had more than one person tell me that it took them more than two hours to get from Bamberton to the summit,” Stephenson said. “Which is five kilometres. I don’t know what to say about that. I’m having a hard time imagining that.”

And daily traffic volume is growing.

According to the most recent figures from the Ministry of Transportation, from 2008 to 2016, the numbers of cars on the Malahat grew from just under 22,000 trips a day to 25,000.

During the summer, it’s even more with 25,000 daily trips in 2008, to just under 29,000 in 2016.

That’s why Stephanson is calling on the Ministry of Transportation for relief for drivers, when the road is shut down.

“There is no fire plan in place. We don’t have anyone in control of this much traffic. This is a huge concern.”

Tens of thousands are heading to Lake Cowichan for the Sunfest Music Festival, adding to the congestion.

That’s just too much for some shopping in Cobble Hill.

“Today, I couldn’t even imagine with Sunfest going on in the Cowichan.”

“It’s just a nightmare. Nightmare. Absolute nightmare.”

The good news for commuters this weekend, there will be no construction on the Malahat until work resumes Tuesday morning.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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