It’s no go for a change in access to a new 108-unit modular home park called Morgan Maples in the development stages at 9090 Trans Canada Highway in Chemainus.
Residents of Henry Road west had lobbied the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to switch the connecting point for the eventual residents of the park from Henry Road to neighbouring Country Maples RV Resort due to safety and environmental concerns. The developer was not against the alternate proposal and the Municipality of North Cowichan’s council wrote a letter to MoTI to reconsider the plan.
But North Cowichan received a letter back from MoTI and it will not allow the primary access to be the TCH instead of Henry Road.
“The ministry’s response is not what we wanted to hear,” noted North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas. “They have maintained their position that primary access should be through Henry Road rather than the Trans-Canada Highway, which is really a shame considering the residents, developer and municipality were all on the same page and had worked out a solution.”
“The ministry acknowledges the concerns raised by local residents on Henry Road as this municipal development will have a significant impact on the volume of traffic that uses this road,” wrote Michael Pearson, director of transportation for the Vancouver Island district, in his letter to council.
“However, Henry Road provides the opportunity for direct all-movement access to the Trans Canada Highway via the existing signalized intersection. From a network planning, operational and engineering perspective this opportunity for direct access to a local road and use of an existing signalized intersection for highway access appears to make the most sense.”
Henry Road residents pointed out a connection road has to be built over sensitive wetlands from the park to the end of Henry Road and then it’s a long and winding route from there back to the Henry Road-Trans Canada Highway signalized crossing. In the other direction, it’s only a short connecting road to the existing Country Maples RV extended merge lane onto the highway heading south.
Pearson refuted that as a better option.
“Having sole access/egress from this proposed development from a shared access with the Country Maples development does not provide full movement access and requires all traffic accessing or egressing the development to use the u-turn facilities at Mt. Sicker Road and Henry Road depending on the direction of travel,” he pointed out.
“Traffic from the development wanting to go northbound on the Trans Canada must exit the development and travel southbound to Mt. Sicker Road to the existing u-turn facility a total distance of approximately six kilometres. Similarly, heading northbound on the Trans Canada Highway and wanting to access the development would require a left turn at Henry Road to the existing u-turn facility and then travel southbound on the Trans Canada to the access. An additional distance of approximately three kilometres.”
Pearson added direct access from the property to Henry Road would result in all movements being accommodated in a distance of approximately 1.6 kilometres.
“Not only is this inefficient and unnecessary additional travel time, all those accessing/egressing the development would still be required to use the Henry Road intersection and therefore the overall traffic impact on the signalized highway intersection at Henry road is similar in either scenario.”
Motorists having to travel long stretches of the TCH to reach u-turn points is not unusual. With many access points blocked off over the years, it’s actually quite common.
One can look at the Malahat Skywalk that opened in 2021. People travelling south and wanting to go to the skywalk have to travel a considerable distance past it before then turning around and heading back north to reach the entrance.
Pearson indicated the original application for the Morgan Maples development cited access from Henry Road, with emergency access only to the highway and secondary access through Country Maples.
“The ministry denied emergency access to the highway, citing the primary access via Henry road and secondary access via a shared access via Country Maples was sufficient,” Pearson pointed out.
A subsequent submission changed the layout with sole access via Country Maples and a gated emergency access to the Henry Road right of way, as residents expressed concerns with increased traffic.
All things considered, the ministry is maintaining its position this development will be accessed through Henry Road.
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