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1 year and $8.3 million for dividers on Island's Malahat
VICTORIA – Construction is to start in May on an $8.3 million project to widen and divide the Trans-Canada Highway from Shawnigan Lake Road north to the Malahat summit.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced the project Thursday, estimating it will take a year to complete. It is to include 2.3 km of concrete median barrier and a one-kilometre extension of the southbound passing lane, plus improvement of intersections at Whittaker Road and Holker Place.
Stone said the improvements will increase safety on a narrow, winding section of the highway that has earned the nickname "NASCAR Corner" for unsafe passing attempts made by frustrated drivers. The steep terrain also leaves little space for police to do speed enforcement, he said.
"This particular stretch has a very unflattering record of collisions," Stone said.
The contract was awarded to Dawson Construction. Stone asked drivers to be patient with delays caused by construction and heed traffic control workers.
The improvements use more than half of the $15 million promised last October for Malahat upgrades, with engineering work continuing to improve safety in other parts of the route.
Asked about another perennial Trans-Canada topic, the growing need for an overpass at Mackenzie Avenue, Stone said it is one of many high-congestion areas being considered for funding.
Stone said the province's 10-year transportation plan is focused on safety and economic development, including shipping from Port Alberni and Nanaimo, airports and rail service on Vancouver Island and in the rest of the province.