Malahat residents file injunction to stop highway safety work they say will backfire

A resident on Aspen Road, 25 kilometres northwest of Victoria, says eliminating a left-hand turn connecting his community with the highway to Victoria will increase danger, not reduce it.

Ministry of Transportation plans $34 million in improvements to highway

A view of the Malahat Highway intersection with Aspen Road, looking south to Victoria. The Ministry of Transportation plans to remove the left turn option for drivers leaving Aspen Road, and residents are not happy about it. (Google Street View)

Residents of a neighbourhood just off the Malahat Highway on Vancouver Island have filed a court injunction to stop work on safety improvements on their stretch of the highway.

Bill Eller, a resident on Aspen Road, 25 kilometres northwest of Victoria, says eliminating a left-hand turn connecting his community with the highway to Victoria will increase danger, not reduce it.

"It's a safety argument we're presenting, and we think it's a compelling argument," he told All Points West guest host Michael Tymchuk. "We think it will take the judiciary to make an impartial decision."

Safety on the Malahat has been a concern in recent years. Dividers and extra lanes have been or are being built to help address the problem.

Presently, Aspen Road connects to a stretch of the Malahat where drivers can turn left to head southbound to Victoria — which involves crossing two lanes of traffic — or right, to the north, which leads to the community of Malahat.

Eller takes issue with the Ministry of Transportation's plan to eliminate the left-turn option for southbound traffic and instead force drivers to turn right, make a different left turn 800 metres up the road, then turn around in a planned new u-turn facility just off the highway's edge and then enter southbound traffic.

The change is necessary because the ministry is adding a second southbound lane in that area.

Eller says the changes make heading south on the Malahat more complicated, increasing the chance of a collision.

He instead wants the ministry to improve safety by implementing a protected T intersection design instead.

All Points West asked the Ministry of Transportation for comment on this story but received none as no new government has formed since the May 9 election.

Listen to the full interview:

A resident of the Aspen Road community in the Cowichan Valley says eliminating a left-hand turn connecting his community with the highway to Victoria will increase danger, not reduce it. 8:04

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West