The Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade responded to a flipped fuel truck on Highway 4 near Kennedy Lake in June, 2017. (Photo-Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade)

$30 million project to make Hwy 4 to Tofino better

Highways crews set to smooth out the Kennedy Lake climb starting this spring

The wildest stretch of highway leading to the Pacific Rim of Vancouver Island is getting its rough edges smoothed out.

The tight, steep, cliffside Highway 4 climb down to Kennedy Lake on the way to Tofino is getting a 1.5-kilometre, $30 million makeover that will take two years, and frequent road closures, to complete.

Construction will begin this spring and is expected to last until the summer of 2020, according B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which has unveiled a proposed schedule of highway closures that it says are needed to get the job done.

READ MORE: Upgrades announced for highway to Tofino and Ucluelet

The current schedule suggests the highway will close in both directions everyday from 10 p.m. to midnight and again from 1-4 a.m. and 5-7 a.m. Travellers can expect roughly 30 minute delays during daylight hours as the road will be open to single-lane, alternating traffic.

Ministry spokesperson Danielle Pope said the work includes removing more than 300,000 cubic metres — roughly 130 Olympic-sized swimming pools — worth of earth and rock to allow for the road, and its shoulders to be widened and a new roadside barrier to be installed between the highway and the lake.

She explained that this stretch of highway will also be straightened out and flattened and a hazardous, overhanging, rock will be removed. A new rest area and viewpoint is also expected to be completed.

“Discussions have been ongoing over the past year with First Nations, emergency responders, Parks Canada and business and tourism associations,” Pope said. “This input, along with the feedback from the public information sessions, will be used to finalize the construction timeline, including overnight traffic stoppage periods and a protocol for emergency response.”

READ MORE: Highway construction to face nightly closures this summer

She added conversations are also ongoing with local first responders.

“Ministry staff are working closely with first responders to develop an emergency protocol that will ensure emergency vehicles have access through the site at all times during an incident,” she said. “There will also be a contingency plan to open the highway for an evacuation should a disaster event occur.”

The $30 million bill for the work is being split between the provincial and federal government, with the province handling the lion’s share at $16.5 million.

Highway 4 was blocked in both directions several times last year prompting Ucluelet’s mayor Dianne St. Jacque to lobby for a car-ferry service as an alternate route of travel.

Just Posted

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

VIDEO: North Island Peewee Eagles unleash avalanche of goals against Peninsula in semi-final showdown

The two teams squared up on Sunday morning at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation takes the next step towards getting Trustee Road land

Seniors rejoice, Port Hardy council is very much in favour of helping… Continue reading

Port Hardy Volleyball club requests funding from Port Hardy council

The sport of Volleyball is alive and well in the North Island,… Continue reading

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Most Read