Skip to content

End in sight soon for daytime closures on Tofino-Ucluelet highway

Mid-day closures to facilitate $53.96 million Kennedy Hill improvement project end March 11

The West Coast is celebrating a long awaited milestone on Wednesday as the provincial government has announced Hwy. 4’s much maligned daytime closures will soon end.

“It’s going to be great that that’s done. It’s also going to of course be good for business and the travel on the highway that’s certainly been backed up for many years now, so it’s great news that it’s going in the right direction and we’re all very excited,” Tofino mayor Dan Law told the Westerly News.

The only road connecting the Tofino-Ucluelet region to the rest of Vancouver Island has been shut down in both directions from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. as part of the ministry of transportation’s $53.96 million Kennedy Hill improvement project, which began in 2018 and has since blown past its initial 2020 completion date.

“It’s been almost five years of delays and closures and that’s certainly had an affect, especially for locals who have to get out of town for medical appointments or other necessary trips. It’s been a constant delay. Everybody’s thinking about scheduling to get out of town and back again,” Law said. “The impact on business has been pretty clear. We still have tremendous visitation numbers, but it’s caused issues with scheduling and of course the amount of traffic on the road at times has had a large impact.”

The province said extended daytime closures will end on March 11, though commuters should still expect delays as single lane alternating traffic will flow at the top of the hour from 5 a.m.-11 p.m on weekdays.

Weekend traffic can expect single-lane alternating traffic from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and top of the hour queue releases from 8-11 p.m. Nightly closures will take place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., with a release to clear queued traffic at 2 a.m.

“This new schedule is designed to make trip planning easier for families, business owners, tour operators and other travellers, especially heading into spring break. On weekends, single-lane alternating traffic during the day will limit wait times for drivers to about 15 minutes,” the announcement states. “Once complete, the Highway 4 - Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project will create a safer, more reliable connection between Port Alberni and the west coast of Vancouver Island.”

The Kennedy Hill project involves a roughly 1.5-kilometre stretch of the highway, which required significant blasting work with over 150,000 cubic metres of rock removed so far.

“With this stage of the project completed, the contractor will shift focus to road alignment and grade lowering, which includes building support structures,” according to Wednesday’s announcement, which adds that the project is expected to be “substancially completed” by the summer of 2022.

“It was certainly a dangerous section. It was narrow with an extremely steep drop off and there’s been accidents and fatalities and that’s a concern, especially with the dramatic increase in traffic and industrial traffic,” Law said. “That road was not suitable for the amount of traffic and the type of traffic that we’re seeing. This was a really needed project. It’s going to make the road safer, wider, straighter. It’s a very good thing.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: One more summer of construction for delayed, over-budget West Coast highway link

READ MORE: Mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies

READ MORE: Highway closures hit travellers heading in and out of Tofino and Ucluelet

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up