Work on Highway 4 between Port Alberni and the Tofino-Ucluelet junction is about to get going, but the highway’s looming nightly closures are still a few months away, according to B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The Ministry announced a $38 million upgrade to the highway last year that would straighten a windy 1.5-kilometre stretch near Kennedy Hill and remove a protruding rock wall. The work, which is expected to take roughly two years to complete and cause nightly closures and daily delays, was expected to start March 1, but was delayed while the contract was worked out.
Work is now expected to start on May 7, but major traffic disruptions are not anticipated until July.
“During initial start-up activities, drivers can expect minor delays during the day of less than 10 minutes getting through the site,” said a Ministry spokesperson in an emailed statement to the Westerly News. “We do not anticipate the nighttime stoppage schedule to begin until sometime in July.”
The ministry said the contract has been awarded to Kelowna-based Emil Anderson Construction.
“Since the contract was awarded, Emil Anderson has been preparing safety plans, traffic management plans, environmental management plans, and many other plans,” the spokesperson said. “A project of this magnitude and complexity requires a longer period of coordination and organization before on-site work can start. Although construction may not be underway yet, lots of background planning and coordination is occurring.”
After hearing public feedback in January, the ministry released a revised closure schedule that will see the highway closed in both directions from 10 p.m. to midnight, 1-4 a.m. and 5-7 a.m. everyday except for Fridays, which will not see a nightly closure until 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
The ministry has launched a website to keep commuters abreast of the closure schedule and commuters can hear daily updates by calling into a traffic hotline at 1-855-451-7152.