Highway 4 to reopen to two-way traffic Thursday evening

Highway 4 to reopen to two-way traffic Thursday evening
B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure/flickr
Crews have been doing rock scaling work on the slopes along Highway 4 to ensure the roads safety.

After many months of closures and single-lane alternating traffic, Highway 4 will be reopening to two-way traffic starting Thursday.

The highway was first closed on June 6 due to the Cameron Bluffs wildfire, then reopened to single-lane alternating a few weeks later.

In a release, the B.C. government previously said the highway was supposed to reopen at 5 p.m., but an update by Drive BC at 4:30 p.m. said the highway would remain closed for rock fencing installation.

The highway opened to two-way traffic at 6 p.m., though Drive BC noted that a construction zone remained in place along the highway.

Crews have been working on rock scaling and slope stabilization for months in order to ensure the highway is safe to reopen, and now that work is complete.

“Highway 4 fully reopening is welcome news for our Island. The wildfire devastation and subsequent safety repairs on this vital corridor has been disruptive for everyone in the region,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“We know how important it is for Highway 4 to be fully open in both directions to all travellers and are really pleased that will happen in advance of the busy Labour Day long weekend.”

While Fleming couldn’t say definitively whether or not this is the end of the closures on Highway 4, he did say the road will only close if there is a safety issue.

“We would only close the highway if we saw a safety risk, and that will depend on what kind of weather patterns that might happen, how much precipitation and how quickly it’s dumped down,” he said in a Zoom interview with CHEK News.

“So Highway 4 won’t really be different than any other highway corridor. We always monitor it, and based on weather, advise the travelling public, or proactively close a highway. We hope not to be doing that at all.”

In addition to the rock scaling and debris removal, 1.4 kilometres of barrier and catchment fencing has been installed along the highway.

“It’s been a very challenging summer for everyone, and so many people have worked tirelessly to fight the wildfire that started this all, to establish a detour and help keep supply chains and essential travel open, and to undertake complex and dangerous recovery work on the Cameron Bluffs so our key transportation corridor can be safely used,” Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim said on Facebook.

The highway reopening was delayed from its original planned reopening date of mid-July after crews learned there was more work to be done than initially anticipated.

READ MORE: More daytime closures with Highway 4 reopening delayed for at least one month

The highway serves as a key corridor to reach Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet, and has had significant impacts on people and businesses in those municipalities.

Highway 4 had recently reopened on March 11 after a multi-year project to improve safety along the Kennedy Hill stretch.

“It’s different when you’re proactively planning a construction highway improvement project versus reacting to a disaster like a wildfire that envelops and makes unsafe your highway,” Fleming said.

“In the case of Kennedy Hill, we were able to plan that well in advance and consult about the best schedule for closing the highway and configure it to inconvenience fewest number of people. Plus it was away from Port Alberni, so, it had fewer communities along that stretch or at the end of that section of Highway 4 impacted this impacted all of them.”

READ PREVIOUS: ‘It’s going to be really difficult’: Truckers, tourism operators worried about Highway 4 closures

The detour route will remain open, but the signage directing travellers to take the detour will be dismantled.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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