Highway 4 to have limited opening Saturday for passenger vehicles and light pickups

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WatchAt 8 p.m. tonight, the road will shut down so crews can install a portable bridge. that will allow drivers to get around a construction-related rockslide that has blocked the road since Wednesday night. But as Mary Griffin tells us, we still don't know how long it will be before traffic is flowing smoothly once again. 

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says Highway 4 will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday for passenger vehicles and light pickups.

For Saturday morning’s limited opening, vehicles will be screened at the Tofino/Ucluelet junction and at Sproat Lake and larger vehicles will wide be turned around. Heavy loads, commercial trucks and vehicles with campers or towing trailers will not be let through.

According to the ministry, once the smaller vehicles have gone through by noon, work will begin on placement of a  pre-fabricated 20-metre single-lane bridge between the rock bluff and Kennedy Lake.

The ministry said the goal is to have Highway 4 reopened to single-lane alternating traffic to regular and commercial vehicles on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 26.

In the meantime, Tourism Tofino is asking visitors to rebook if they were planning to visit this weekend.

The hotels are providing refunds and are helping people to reschedule.

For drivers affected by the Highway 4 closure, two Emergency Support Hubs are available in Pacific Rim National Park. Combers Beach parking lot is available for semi-trailer trucks, and Green Point Campground overflow is available for RVs and campers.

On Friday, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that Highway 4 will reopen to essential travel only between noon and 8 p.m. Only passenger vehicles and light pickups were allowed through.

The damage to the road was caused by a large volume of rock falling during a scheduled blast on Jan. 23. The blast was part of the Highway 4 – Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project. The project is expected to be finished later this year. 

Ucluelet’s mayor said the inconvenience highlights the need for cell service on the highway as news of the damage travelled slow.

“I continue to try to push the conversation of Wi-Fi. Perhaps if Wi-Fi communication was available, we could’ve relayed more information out to the rest of the travelling motorists trying to go there and just to spread the word,”  Mayco Noël said.

Tofino’s mayor emphasized that the current difficulties should be worth it in the future.

“It creates an inconvenience as well so we’re trying to balance the short term pain for the long term gain and we know how great the project is going to be when it’s finally over,” said Josie Osbourne.

Osbourne also tweeted Friday that while fresh produce shelves, milk and egg aisles are a little bare, there are full shelves of other items for groceries.

The damage to Highway 4 was caused by a large volume of rock falling on the road during a scheduled blast early on Thursday as part of the a safety improvement project. The highway has been closed since. This incident marks the fourth time that the highway has been closed as a result of blasting.

The Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project is expected to be finished later this year and the Ministry said it “will create a safer, more reliable connection between Port Alberni and the west coast of Vancouver Island.”

As far as the current situation, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said it will update the estimated closure window for the bridge installation as soon as possible. For updates, you can check the DriveBC website.

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