Government opts to keep closures on Highway 4 during daytime after public feedback

Government opts to keep closures on Highway 4 during daytime after public feedback
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The Government of British Columbia has backpedaled on a recent decision to move construction closures on Highway 4 to overnight, opting to keep the daytime schedule.

According to the Province, the decision to keep the daytime closures on the Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Improvement Project came following “strong support” from the public that opposed overnight shutdowns.

Starting Monday, July 12, daytime closures will resume on weekdays between 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with top-of-the-hour traffic releases at all other times of the day and night. On weekends, drivers can expect top-of-the-hour traffic releases.

“We are pleased to share that we have made the decision to revert back to midday daily closures,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “There is no ideal time to close the highway, but I know the existing closures are part of people’s routine now. The ministry’s main goal is to ensure worker safety and to free up the highway for the heavy summer tourist volumes that are returning now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifting.”

Last month, the government announced that construction on the project would move to nightly closures that would take place from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., except on Saturday nights.

Following the announcement, local residents, emergency services, and tourism companies expressed concerns about additional travel complications that the night closures would create. The feedback from the public ultimately led the government to reverse course on its decision and keep closures during the day.

“This is great news! I want to thank Minister Osborne and her staff as well as the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s staff for quickly arranging a time to meet with representatives from the coast and hear the concerns of our locals and businesses, appreciating the impact that this change could create over the summer months,” said Mayco NoĂ«l, mayor of Ucluelet. “With this schedule staying the same, residents of the west coast can keep their pre-planned appointments, and visitors do not need to worry about changing schedules or canceling much-deserved holidays this summer.”

Daytime closures have been in place since last year to allow crews to safely undertake some of the most complex blastings on the project. The Kennedy Hill Improvement Project is intended to widen and straighten the highway following along the high rock bluffs beside Kennedy Lake.

“The District of Tofino is pleased the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has made significant progress on completing some of the hardest and most dangerous work on Kennedy Hill,” said Dan Law, mayor of Tofino. “In conjunction with our residents and business community, the District of Tofino supports the summer schedule. We realize that these decisions are complex and that finding the best compromise can be difficult; however, the ministry has shown diligence and flexibility in hearing and responding to new information and constructive community input. Well done.”

The project is now expected to be completed in summer 2022.

As a result of project challenges, the revised budget has been increased from $38.1 million to $53.96 million.

“Once complete, the Highway 4 – Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project will create a safer and more reliable connection between Port Alberni and the west coast of Vancouver Island. The project will benefit the surrounding communities by stimulating economic development and tourism opportunities that rely on this vital corridor,” the government adds.

More project information can be found online at www.gov.bc.ca/highway4kennedyhill.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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