How To Make The Malahat Safer

1897 words - 8 pages

How to Make the Malahat Safer
The debate about how to improve the treacherously narrow and winding Malahat Mountain Highway on South Vancouver Island has been an on-going issue since its conception back in 1861 when it was built as a cattle trail, then up-graded to wagon-road status in 1884 and eventually paved in 1911 (Commission). Currently vital safety upgrades are underway such as concrete barriers to divide the road lanes and stabilization solutions for falling debris. The presence of physical law enforcement units on the highway to manage problems like cell phone usage, impaired drivers and vehicles that are ill equipped for weather conditions is a necessary and crucial part of maintaining safety on the Malahat (Unit). However, due to the fact that the Malahat is built on the side of a mountain, with sheer drop-offs on one side and rock cliffs on the other, there are very few spots from which law enforcement can enforce speed limits. Furthermore, the highway spans over many different municipalities, and enforcement suffers from jurisdictional issues (Rondeau). Speeding is a critical safety problem that is prevalent on the Malahat; reducing speeding by installing speed cameras will substantially decrease the amount of fatal accidents on the highway, as well as save precious natural resources and billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money.
There have been substantial government studies done to find solutions for the Malahat, ranging from double decking the highway to building bridges across the Sannich Peninsula inlet, all of which have serious environmental impacts, and are estimated to cost hundreds of millions to billions of dollars (Transportation). The twinning or double decking of the current highway would come with many challenges both physically and financially. Physically the landscape of the Malahat itself is quite importunate to work with, because of the ,steep sheer, cliffs, jagged, and often unstable rock faces, of the mountain; which would also require significant blasting to achieve the results needed to improve the highway. The fact that the Malahat is the only Route into Victoria, making it a particularly busy commuting highway also causes serious problems for construction because the route is busy; construction will have to deal with significant delays due to the need to maintain a moderate flow of traffic through the corridor. Construction will encounter further delays due to the precautions that need to be taken to ensure the safety of workers and travellers while work is completed on the busy highway. These delays add to the already significant financial cost of implementing these ideas for widening and improving the existing highway. The economic cost associated with the different proposed options of development for the highway range from an “estimated 200 million dollars to 1billion dollars” (Transportation). The cheapest option includes upgrades to only a “total of 18.8 km” (Transportation)of road, and does not allow...

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