Residents of Sooke have been calling for major improvements to Highway 14 for years. Now, work is finally underway.

It’s an $85 million project that will become a four-lane, one-and-a-half-kilometre highway running between Glinz Road and Connie Road, and residents of the growing community of Sooke say the improvements are badly needed.

“We’re very reliant on Highway 14,” said Maja Tait, the district’s mayor.

The stretch of road has seen numerous closures over the years.

“That area has had fatalities there, logging vehicles overturning, hydro poles knocked down leading to no hydro in some areas,” said the mayor. “It’s been ongoing for many years.”

People living in Sooke are happy about the project start as well.

Ruth Ann Gal and David Han are building a house on Gillespie Road.

“We really like the fact that we’re going to have a bypass in the area,” said Gal. “That really works well for us.”

“It’s a start, but I think there’s more to be done,” said a man named Eric, who declined to give his last name while speaking to CTV News in Sooke on Wednesday.

As some celebrate the start of the project, others are not so enthusiastic.

“Now we’ve realized we’ve become the doormat to Sooke,” said Eric Boucher, the chairman of the North Sooke Community Association.

Residents living on Connie Road are in the heart of the new construction.

“Six people in the neighbourhood lost their houses. Well, they sold, that was their option,” said Boucher. “Others are losing a piece of their property while a four lane highway gets built over the next four years.”

Not all property owners have completed deals with the province to make room for the new Highway.

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Transportation, which responded with a written statement declining to comment on ongoing negotiations.

According to Boucher, people living on the rural road, including a neighbour of his, are already beginning to feel the impacts from the construction.

“The major excavation only started a couple of weeks ago,” Boucher said. “He found mud in his dishwasher the other day and his well is contaminated now.”

The project is expected to be completed in late 2022.