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Hwy. 4 camera at Sutton Pass remains down a year after lightning strike

Ministry of transportation and infrastructure says camera damaged beyond repair
A lightning strike destroyed this radio receiver at the summit of Porter Mountain knocking DriveBC’s Sutton Pass camera out of service in November, 2020. (Photo courtesy of B.C.’s ministry of transportation and infrastructure)

The Sutton Pass highway camera has been officially declared kaput.

The webcam that’s offered commuters a preview of their journey between Port Alberni and the Tofino-Ucluelet region since 2011 went dark after a lightning strike obliterated the radio repeater it relied upon for a signal roughly one year ago on Nov. 16, 2020.

“There were a number of challenges that followed,” a ministry of transportation and infrastructure spokesperson told the Westerly News via email last week. “The only way to access the repeater site is by helicopter, and the station required repair with sophisticated telecom gear.”

The spokesperson explained that inclement weather and a tough landing area made it difficult for a helicopter to access the site, though a team was recently able to assess the situation and officially declare the webcam “permanently out of service.”

“The ministry is now surveying new locations for a camera near to the original Sutton Pass camera that will leverage existing ministry infrastructure and provide timely information on the highway conditions,” the spokesperson said. “The ministry is working on getting the new camera location and design finalized.”

They added that a cost estimate and timeline for the work are still being hammered out.

“We recognize the importance of delivering images of the highway conditions for people driving along this route, and the ministry thanks drivers for their patience during this time,” the spokesperson said.

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