Langford Mayor Stew Young is calling for immediate upgrades to a section of Highway 1 after two fatal crashes in less than a month.
A 24-year-old man died after a head-on collision Sunday on the Trans-Canada Highway near the Leigh Road overpass. This is the second fatal crash on the stretch of roadway between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway since January.
“In light of what’s happened, we owe it to the families, we owe it to the travelling public to make that safer,” Young said.
On Jan. 8, two people – both drivers – were sent to hospital with serious injuries after a head-on crash occurred on an undivided curve of the Trans-Canada Highway just south of West Shore Parkway.
One driver died later that month.
Young wants to see additional lanes and separation barriers installed on the stretch of Highway 1 between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway – changes he said the City of Langford has advocated for, for years.
In 2016, the province agreed to upgrade the highway to four lanes and install a centre median, and began the planning process. Last week the province told the City of Langford the project would break ground in the summer, according to Young, who no longer accepts that timeline.
“It’s always been a priority in Langford,” he told Black Press. “We would like it started next week. We don’t want to wait until the summer for something that is, as far as I’m concerned, the most urgent piece of work that has to be done.
“Barriers save lives, so let’s find a way to get the barriers up at least,” he added. “It’s an unsafe stretch of road. We all know that it needs to be done … I don’t want to see another accident or another fatality.”
On Monday, West Shore RCMP Const. Nancy Saggar noted since January 2017 there have been 79 collisions between the Leigh Road overpass and just north of West Shore Parkway. She added that those numbers only reflect collisions that were reported to police. More than 40 of those collisions were in an area without medians.
“It’s an area of concern for us,” she said, adding the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has been working to improve the highway. “We believe this is an area that could also use improvements.”
On Facebook, many Black Press readers echoed the mayor’s call for change.
“A barrier is essential there. Two possibly avoidable deaths in a month. How many more? RIP young man,” said Cale Ralston.
“So sad. I am devastated for that family,” commented Lara Forbes. “I drive that every day and it is windy and narrow with limited visibility on that corner. Also, two lanes merge into one just before.”
Diana Craveiro commented: “How many fatalities does the government ‘need’ before they put barriers in? People cross that line constantly. Every time I drive northbound, at least two to three vehicles cross the yellow line. Rip young man. Condolences.”
At the time of publication, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure had not yet responded to requests for comment on this story.
– With files from Shalu Mehta