EDITORIAL: New era possible for deadly road

New divider barriers on Malahat are not the only solution

The placing of concrete dividers on the Malahat, in areas prone to crashes, is a good step in the right direction, from a safety perspective and one of highway continuity, even as driver common sense remains paramount.

While it is critical that emergency crews be able to quickly reach drivers involved in collisions on the road, it is also imperative that at least one lane of the road remains open to keep traffic moving.

At this time of the year, more families will be hitting the road for summer holidays, and many of those will be travelling up or down the Malahat to reach their destinations.

There have been many calls over the years to do something to address the potential for problems and tragedy on this hilly, windy section of Highway 1 between Goldstream Park and Mill Bay. Some of those suggestions, or demands, had a snowball’s chance in Haiti of being followed through on, like the bridge and tunnel ideas.

But the one that always seemed to make the most sense – a better system of dividers – has finally been acted upon by the Ministry of Transportation.

This is the same department that spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Inland Island Highway from Parksville to Courtenay some years back, then extended it to Campbell River, so people could rumble along at 120 kilometres per hour or more between areas that produce far less traffic than the Malahat on a daily basis.

But those were the days when government had more money to throw around and such megaprojects could be justified with the number of full-time jobs that were created.

Things are different today, and finding solutions that cost less and are more efficient uses of funds are the norm.

That said, there is and will always be the matter of driver behaviour on a road that has sustained many tragic crashes – some due to conditions, but virtually all traceable back to some level of driver error.

As on any road, we need to practise safe driving when tackling the Malahat and not let added dividers lull us into a false sense of security. Driving for the conditions is the mantra for this tricky, but very scenic and beautiful stretch of highway – that and always maintaining complete control of your vehicle.

Thanks for the extra safety features, but we’ll still be keeping our eyes wide open and our heads up.