Despite multiple unplanned closures of Highway 4 near Kennedy Lake this summer, construction is still on-schedule and expected to be complete for summer 2020, according to the B.C. Ministry of transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI).
The Highway 4 Kennedy Hill safety improvement project, taking place 14 kilometres northeast of the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction, includes improvements to the road, such as widening the highway to accommodate two 3.6-metre lanes, 1.5-metre paved shoulders and a concrete roadside barrier between the lake and the highway. In addition, the road will be straightened from its curvilinear alignment and overhanging rock will be eliminated through extensive blasting and excavation.
It was from the rock blasting that two unexpected road closures occurred in July. Blasting caused rock debris to block the highway, 14 kilometres east of the southern boundary to the Pacific Rim National park, on July 9 and 31.
Janelle Staite, regional deputy director with MoTI, said the unplanned road closures have not delayed the contractor’s progress.
“Going into this project we certainly anticipated that blasting and the movement of all of that rock would be the trickiest part of it, so that piece has certainly periodically impacted the actual opening time of the road and created some inconvenience for drivers,” Staite said. “In terms of the overall completion schedule it hasn’t negatively affected that.”
The ongoing highway work is part of a $38.1 million project funded by the province and federal governments to make the road safer.
“I think the contractor (Emil Anderson Construction Ltd. of Kelowna) is making great progress out there,” Staite said. “As of today they’ve actually moved over 80,000 square metres of rock that’s been blasted so that’s over 60 per cent of the blast.”
Staite added that blasting is going to continue through the fall and winter and now that the busy summer months have ended, daytime closures have begun again between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the 1.6-kilometre Kennedy Hill zone. Additional road closures remain between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. (except Tuesdays) and 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. (except on Fridays). Drivers can expect up to 30-minute delays during all other times.