After more than three years, bi-directional traffic on Kennedy Hill is expected to resume early next year.
In a news release, the B.C. government says weather permitting, traffic in both lanes will start flowing again on the Kennedy Hill section of Highway 4 by early January.
“This is a major milestone of the project to upgrade the 1.5-kilometre Kennedy Hill section to a safer, more reliable road for residents, tourists and truckers. The road has been straightened and flattened, with better visibility, wider travel lanes and shoulders, and new roadside barriers between the highway and Kennedy Lake,” the province said in its release.
Bi-directional traffic on Kennedy Hill, a 1.5 kilometre stretch of Highway 4 between Tofino and Port Alberni, has not been permitted for years due to a massive $54-million improvement project on the highway that began in 2018 and is nearly complete.
Once completed, the project will result in a widened highway with two full lanes and 1.5-metre paved shoulders and a roadside barrier near the lake. Sharp blind corners and overhanging rock will have also been removed and a new rest area with washroom facilities and a viewpoint will be built.
Since the project began, however, rock blasting and other construction work has resulted in daytime and nightly closures of Kennedy Hill. The rock blasting also caused unanticipated daytime closures on the highway — the only one between Port Alberni and Tofino — in 2019.
The project has already seen crews blast more than 100,000 cubic metres of rock on the bluffs and road base and the construction of two cantilever structures to widen the road.
The provincial government says work is now nearly 90 per cent completed and that when both lanes are open, traffic impacts will be reduced to nighttime closures and “minor interruptions” during the day.