After receiving a fury of pushback from Tofino-Ucluelet residents, local emergency services and tourism operators, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has quashed a proposed 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly closure on Highway 4 Kennedy Hill improvement project and will revert back to a daytime closure schedule.
From July 5 to 11, Highway 4 will remain open via single lane alternating traffic with no extended daytime closures. To accommodate continued work operations and the increasing summer traffic volumes, traffic will be released and fully cleared at the top of every hour through the day, reads a July 1 press release from the ministry.
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, in the July 1 media release.
“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.”
Tofino mayor Dan Law is in favour the daytime closure schedule.
“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,” said Law.
Daytime closures have been in place since last year to allow crews to safely undertake some of the most complex blasting on the project. The blasting is necessary to widen and straighten the highway following along the high rock bluffs beside Kennedy Lake, notes the ministry.
Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noël is also supportive of reverting back to daytime closures.
“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 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 Noël.
“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 cancelling much-deserved holidays this summer,” he said.
Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce echoed the mayors comments.
“We are appreciative of the responsiveness of the Ministry to the concerns raised by the majority of residents and businesses on the west coast. We understand highway closures of any kind have an effect on businesses, whether they be tourism focused or part of the transportation network that brings needed goods to the coast. We would urge the Ministry to continue to work with leaders from the west coast in timing future road closures, and hope that this project moves forward to its completion date as soon as possible,” said Chamber executive director Jen Dart.
Regular updates and information will also be posted on EAC Hwy 4 Kennedy Hill Project Updates Facebook page and DriveBC.ca. There is also a traffic advisory hotline: 1-855-451-7152.