Hours after reopening, winds close Highway 4

Hours after reopening, winds close Highway 4
B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure/Flickr
Crews installing protective fencing along Highway 4.

Five hours after it re-opened, strong winds at the Cameron Bluffs wildfire have forced the closure of Highway 4 once again.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says it is a temporary closure while staff assess the safety of the site.

The detour remains open for non-essential travel.



This story has been updated to reflect that the highway has closed. The previous version is preserved below.

After weeks of being closed, Highway 4 reopened at 3:15 p.m. Friday to single-lane alternating vehicle traffic.

This means drivers no longer need to take a four-hour detour to drive to or from Port Alberni or Tofino.

In order to partially reopen Highway 4 to single-lane traffic, rock barriers have been installed to prevent rocks from falling on the road.

“We’re installing a mixture of things, including a rock curtain that’s being suspended in three different areas,” Janelle Staite, deputy director for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure South Coast Region told CHEK News on June 20.

“So it’s suspended by cranes, and it goes a fair ways up the slope. It’s intended to catch any rocks that are coming down the slope.”

Additionally, part of the highway has been repaved.

Pilot cars are now leading the way in each direction.

A long line of vehicles including campers, cars and trucks began lining up in Whiskey Creek after the Ministry of Transportation announced the reopening earlier Friday.

“I just got a text from my boss that said they might be opening the road at 3 p.m. so I actually left work right away,” said Brian McConnell who lives in Port Alberni but got stuck at work in Qualicum Beach when the highway closed June 6.

Meike Land, who is visiting Vancouver Island with her daughters from Germany, told CHEK News they waited for hours to get to the Highway 4 lineup and had to wait a few more hours to spend one night in Tofino.

“We were planning to brave the detour route but we’re glad we didn’t do it because everyone said they wouldn’t recommend it. Everyone in this lineup said they tried and and wouldn’t recommend it,” added Stephanie Cheung from North Vancouver who was headed for Tofino.

Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said Highway 4 is a crucial route for our Island communities of Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino.

“We know the disruption of this corridor has been a challenge for everyone living in and visiting the region,” Fleming added.

The highway is reopening for residents, travellers and commercial traffic, but the ministry says to expect queues as a result of heavy traffic.

READ PREVIOUS: Suspended rock curtains to protect travellers when Highway 4 reopens

The highway was closed due to the Cameron Bluffs wildfire, which is now listed as under control.

The wildfire caused damage to the highway, prompting its closure on June 6.

READ PREVIOUS: Cameron Bluffs no longer wildfire of note; highway reopening on schedule

Bigfoot Burger at Whiskey Creek is excited about the reopening. Manager Lauren Stolz says due to the closure, business at the restaurant was down by two-thirds.

“We’re ready for it, we’re ready for the people, we’re ready for the action, we’re ready for the tourists. We’re ready,” said Stolz.

In the summer, Stolz says about half of the restaurant’s business comes from travellers to Tofino and Ucluelet.

In Port Alberni, Mayor Sharie Minions said “this opening comes as a huge relief to our community. It has been a difficult few weeks, reflecting just how critical this connection is to our daily lives. Port Alberni is a community that comes together in times of challenge and this situation has once again affirmed our resilience.”

-With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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