Highway 4 sees second lengthy unscheduled closure within a month

Highway 4 sees second lengthy unscheduled closure within a month
WatchRock blasting blamed for Highway 4 being closed for more than six hours Wednesday, beyond what was scheduled.

Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Vancouver Island’s west coast was shut for hours again on Wednesday.

The unscheduled closure was once again related to rock blasting during highway widening.

Overnight blasting on a nearly $40 million construction project to make the highway safer brought down more rock than expected Tuesday night, forcing the closure of the highway.

“We’re hoping it would be cleared up by now but it isn’t,” said Wayne Shannon, a tourist from Abbotsford, who was waiting for the road to clear.

“We have to wait and we’re on kind of a schedule so it’s no fun so what do you do about it?” mused Hans Toebak, a tourist from Holland.

The highway was supposed to reopen at 7 a.m.

Travellers were told the highway would reopen at 10:30 a.m. then noon, then 1 p.m. It opened back to single-lane, alternating traffic before 1:30 p.m.

In Cathedral Grove many tourists learned about the road closure thanks to volunteers with the Alberni Chamber of Commerce.

“The biggest topic of the day is that the road is closed to Tofino but it’s an excellent opportunity to get people to stop in Port Alberni and see what we really have there,” said Ian Staton, one of the Alberni Valley volunteers.

“Port Alberni is one of the little gems we have on the island that a lot of people around the world don’t know about.”

Some took the closure in stride. One German family decided to spend a little more time checking out Cathedral Grove.

“We’ll spend a little more time here and walk around. Unfortunately, my kids are not that glad that they need to walk but we will see. Maybe we’ll go the lake,” said Marcus Kohnle, a tourist.

This isn’t the first time this season the highway was shut down under similar circumstances. Just over three weeks ago the highway was closed for 10 hours because of debris on the road.

B.C’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said they would do everything they could to ensure another incident wouldn’t happen.

“We’re doing our due diligence to make sure with every blast that we’re taking every precaution but these things do happen given the nature of rock work so we appreciate everyone’s patience,” said Mike Pearson with the ministry on July 8.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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