Commuters to and from the West Coast will be eased into two years worth of highway delays.
The provincial and federal government are splitting a $38 million project to upgrade a roughly 1.5 kilometre stretch of Highway 4 near Kennedy Hill, with B.C. picking up the larger share of the tab at $24.6 million and Ottawa pitching in $13.5 million.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure recently announced it had awarded a $29 million contract to Kelowna-based Emil Anderson Construction to straighten out the windy stretch of road and blast away a rock wall hanging over it.
EAC project coordinator David Gourlay told the Westerly News that crews are expecting to start working in the area on May 7, but much of the first two months will be spent removing trees and clearing a path to the top of the rock.
“We can’t get our equipment to where it needs to get right now because the terrain is so difficult,” he said.
He said commuters should expect roughly 10-minute delays during May and June while the clearing is being done, but added June’s summer traffic could increase wait times.
Blasting is expected to get underway in July and will be done by drilling holes into the top of the rock for explosives to be dropped into. A team of rock scalers will chip away at any rocks that didn’t fall during the blast.
Once the blasting begins, so to will two years worth of nightly highway closures with the highway being shut down in both directions from 10 p.m. to midnight, 1-4 a.m. and 5-7 a.m. Friday is the only exception to the schedule as the highway will remain open until 1 a.m. Saturday morning to allow weekend travellers to arrive late.
“It’s important that all the drivers obey all the construction signage,” Gourlay said. “There’s going to be lots of signs and they just need to respect the information. Be safe and drive slow.”
Gourlay penned a letter distributed throughout the West Coast last week explaining that, from July on, the road will be open to single-lane alternating traffic during the day and drivers should expect roughly 30 minute delays during summer months.
“Outside of peak periods, these delays should be much reduced,” he wrote. “We apologize for any inconvenience this project will impose on you, but hope you understand that we are working towards a safer highway for all of us.”
The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2020.
Anyone looking for information can find it at www.gov.bc.ca/highway4kennedyhill and a traffic hotline for daily updates can be reached at 1-855-451-7152.