The only road connecting the West Coast to Port Alberni and beyond looks like it will be shut down in both directions every night for three months this summer.
Canada’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities and B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure are splitting the cost of a roughly $27 million project that will upgrade a 1.5 kilometre stretch of Hwy. 4 roughly 14 kilometres east of the West Coast junction.
The project is expected to get underway in April and take about two years to complete.
Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques told the Westerly News that Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure representatives presented to the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District board last week and outlined their plan to close Highway 4 in both directions every night from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. from June 15 to September 15.
During each nightly closure, the highway would open for two one-hour periods: from midnight to 1 a.m. and again from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., according to St. Jacques.
She said the road is expected to remain open between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., though commuters could face 30-minute delays with single-lane traffic.
“It’s not in stone at this point, but this is what they’re looking at,” St. Jacques said. “There’s so much to consider: the fire department, B.C. Ambulance, RCMP, so they’re still working through it. But, the project is slated to start in April, so we need to stay ahead of it as much as we can and inform our community as much as we can.”
She said Ucluelet’s council has urged the ministry to present its plan to West Coasters next month.
“I’m anxious to get them out here, having some public meetings and talking to people,” she said. “They are going to come out and we look forward to helping them organize meetings…Christmas is slowing it down a little as far as the communications bit, but they will be here, hopefully, by mid-January.”
She added she also hopes the ministry will meet with the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce to ensure businesses are informed.
“We want to make sure that this doesn’t have a negative impact on our economy,” she said.
She said that, along with local commuters, the closures could have a big impact on delivery trucks and tourists arriving late at night and added that she hopes the ministry will listen to local concerns.
“It’s a tough job that they’ve got and I respect that. We’ve got to get this project done efficiently, on budget and safely so we just need to all work together on this and support each other,” she said.
The Westerly News has reached out to the ministry, but did not hear back by presstime.