The province doesn’t expect other rocks to fall onto the Malahat after that happened this morning, bringing traffic to a stop on the Trans-Canada highway in both directions for several hours.
The Malahat was shut down for about three hours Monday morning north of Victoria, just past Goldstream Park.
Janelle Staite, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy regional director for the south coast, said at about 8:10 a.m., a rock fell into the southbound lanes, bounced across the median and through the northbound lanes before coming to rest on the shoulder. There was a “minor impact” with a northbound pickup truck, she said.
The highway was immediately closed and the ministry’s geotechnical engineers dispatched to the location.
“From what they can determine, it was sort of an isolated event,” said Staite. “We’ve had a lot of heavy rains over the last number of days and when we do have rains when it’s been dry for awhile, it has the opportunity to potentially dislodge some rock material.”
Straite said the incident was not related to any construction happening further north on the highway.
She said the ministry has meshing over the rock face on this particular stretch of the highway, but the rock that fell came from about 100 metres above the ministry right-of-way.
“They look at a broad enough section to try to determine, is this something that we need to be concerned around a larger rock fall or more rocks falling before we’re able to re-open the highway,” Staite said. “The assessment that they did, they were able to determine that where they looked at, they were comfortable to give the OK.”
She said the Ministry of Transportation is “always looking” at safety along the corridor, including the rock faces, and said “we’re very thankful that no one was injured” in this morning’s incident.
She said approximately 22,000 vehicles travel that route each day and the ministry appreciates that traffic closures are a disruption to commuters and businesses.
“I can say we are looking at alternatives to the Malahat…” she said, noting that alternate routes and bridge links have been brought up in the past. “We’re still working on the scope of that study and hope to have more information this fall.”
Straite said it’s “at the top of our mind,” and that was the case before the series of closures in recent weeks.
“This is an important corridor, we want to keep people moving on the corridor and we want to make sure the corridor remains safe and reliable,” she said.