Commuters travelling in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet will be hit with 10-hour closures on Hwy. 4 for five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28.
In an April 14 announcement, BC’s ministry of transportation and infrastructure explained the closures are needed to conduct rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.
For five Wednesdays in a row, we West Coasters will once again be demonstrating our resilience as 10-hour highway…
The ministry’s announcement states that “multiple complex blasts” will be done in the same area a temporary bridge was installed last year after a blasting accident destroyed the roadway on Jan. 23, 2020.
“The daylight closure will allow workers time to prepare the road beneath the blast area at this previous repair location, and to safely and efficiently scale and remove loose rock from the bluff immediately following the blast before reopening the road,” the announcement reads.
The highway will be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 28, May 5, May 12, May 19 and May 26 and an update on the construction’s timeline and budget is expected after blasting is completed.
“It is anticipated that after May 2021, the complex high-risk blasting required on the remaining bluff will be substantially completed, and no further 10-hour closures will be needed to complete the project. It is expected that after the completion of these blasts, the contractor will be closer to moving to night-time blasting, as the busier summer months approach,” the announcement reads.
The highway will continue to be closed from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every other day of the week.
“The ministry thanks motorists and residents on both sides of the closure for their patience. When completed, the Highway 4-Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project will create a safer, more reliable connection between Port Alberni and the west coast of Vancouver Island,” the announcement reads.
Tofino mayor Dan Law told the Westerly News that the highway construction project is important and he encourages commuters to be patient while the work is underway.
“Anybody who drives through there sees that job is an amazingly difficult task. This has got to get done and we just have to embrace it,” he said. “I think it’s good and I think it’s good timing. Better now than in the middle of summer…We’ve just got to embrace it. It is what it is. It’s got to get done and this is the way it’s getting done.”
He added that, once complete, the upgraded 1.5 kilometre stretch of highway will provide much safer passage in and out of the West Coast.
“It was a pretty treacherous bit of highway. I know over the 20 years I’ve been here, there’s been a lot of people that have lost their lives on that stretch of highway.”
The highway saw a similar 10-hour closure to conduct blasting on March 23 and Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel was not surprised to see more closures scheduled.
“I think it’s an appropriate time. As much as it’s an inconvenience for the couriers and medical appointments, the reality is the Coast is slow,” he said. “It’s obviously necessary and I’m just hoping that after the five [closures] we can see some serious forward movement and they get to where they need to sooner than later.”
He added Ucluelet has not been given any indication from the ministry regarding how much longer the construction is expected to go on for.
“It would be nice to see that, but I guess when they do they do,” he said. “Fingers crossed and we’re looking forward to some true movement on this Kennedy Hill project.