The Government of British Columbia has reviewed the report on potential emergency detour routes for longer-term closures of the Malahat (Highway 1) north of Greater Victoria.
While the report determined feasible detour routes exist, it also detailed potential impacts to the community watershed and local environment.
Due to these community and environmental impacts, the focus of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will remain on improving safety on the existing Highway 1 route, so incidents that result in longer closures can be limited.
The goal of the study was to assess the feasibility of a route that could make use of existing forestry resource roads, trails and/or Greater Victoria Water Supply Area maintenance roads, with limited investment and footprint changes.
This study examined seven possible emergency detour routes that could be implemented during long highway closures. All routes were determined to have environmental, engineering, property and community disruption impacts — some to greater degrees than others.
Of the seven routes assessed, two were taken forward for capital cost estimates. Estimates ranged from $30 million for Option 1A Niagara Main, to $180 million for Option 2A, the Far West alignment.
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 seven closures of the Malahat longer than four hours in duration.
In the event of a long highway closure, the Pacific Marine Circle Route is available as a detour, with a travel time of approximately 3.5 hours.
As thousands of people drive the Malahat every day, the Province is committed to improving safety on the main route in and out of Greater Victoria.
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 median barrier to the highway north of the West Shore Parkway to just north of Finlayson Arm Road. Engineering work is underway.
The Malahat Segment Detour Route Planning report is available online: www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/reports-and-reference/reports-and-studies/vancouver-island-south-coast/highway_1_malahat_segment_emergency_detour_route_planning.pdf