Well this is an interesting turn of events. I wonder what they will consider to be "an extended period of time."

Watershed designated rescue route in Malahat emergencies

Bill Cleverley Times Colonist Thursday, April 22, 2004

An agreement has been reached to convoy emergency vehicles through the Capital Regional District watershed if an accident blocks the Malahat for an extended period of time.

But no one should think of twinning the Malahat route anywhere near the Sooke reservoir, CRD water commission chairman Nils Jensen said Wednesday. The reservoir is Greater Victoria's main source of drinking water.

"In the event of a long closure of the Malahat we would have a convoy-system to escort vehicles through the watershed along the west side of the reservoir and down through Goldstream coming out at the Goldstream gate," CRD water division manager Jack Hull said.

"It would be strictly on a convoy basis where there would be a lead vehicle and a following vehicle with nobody allowed to stop. There would be no hazardous materials (permitted) through under those convoys, and there would be one convoy in each direction."

Two-way traffic would not be safe, Hull said.

Jensen emphasized the special access would be for emergency vehicles only and would be strictly monitored.

"We're not talking about letting people who have to make the ferry at Swartz Bay through."

Nanaimo resident Philip Martin Higgins, 47, died on July 17, 2000 when the propane truck he was driving crashed on the Malahat. The highway was closed for 19 hours. Because of the volatility of the cargo, hundreds were evacuated from their homes while the cleanup took place.

Calls for twinning the highway or providing an alternate route usually follow major accidents on the highway that result in long traffic delays.

Jensen said he was surprised recently to hear Juan de Fuca/Malahat MLA Brian Kerr suggest in a radio interview using the old Highway 117 which parallels the Sooke reservoir as a possible route for twinning.

It won't happen, he said.

He noted the highways was finally closed and removed from the official list of roads in 1999 after several years of lobbying. It has since been partially flooded by the Sooke reservoir expansion project.

"We want to make it very clear that we spent many, many years dealing with closing that highway; finally got it de-gazetted in 1999 and now to even raise that issue is something that I don't think would find much favour with this commission."

While called a highway, the road in question was more of a dirt road that, in part, ran immediately adjacent to the Sooke reservoir.

When the road was still in use it was identified as the single biggest threat to water quality.

"The idea of having a two-lane highway in there was, to me, something that has to be nipped in the bud."

Copyright 2004 Times Colonist (Victoria)


Nanaimo resident Philip Martin Higgins, 47, died on July 17, 2000 when the propane truck he was driving crashed on the Malahat. The highway was closed for 19 hours. Because of the volatility of the cargo, hundreds were evacuated from their homes while the cleanup took place.
The highway was actually closed for over 20 hours, and his "incident" was caused by an excess of blood/oxygen content in his alcohol system. Therefore this particular event was preventable.

I have also travelled some of the 'road' that they are referring to as an alternate. I had no idea that it had been labled as "Highway 117", but in any case it is not in real great shape, and I would not recommend it for heavy use traffic flow. One way traffic is absolutely the only way to move on it.