Commuters, tourists and those traveling to and from Vancouver Island’s west coast no longer have to endure long traffic delays or schedule conflicts now that the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project is substantially complete.
Improvements to the stretch of Highway 4 adjacent to Kennedy Lake and approximately 14 kilometres northeast of the Tofino/Ucluelet junction have to a large extent wrapped up after more than five years of construction.
Safety improvements include widening the highway, realignments to the passage to remove sharp blind corners, straightening the road as well as blasting and eliminating overhanging rock above the road surface that was hazardous to larger transport vehicles.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) said final completion of the road is expected by this spring.
“The ministry is putting the finishing touches to the roadway, including line painting, rumble strips and site cleanup,” MoTI said in an emailed statement. “The road is open to two-way traffic with minor intermittent traffic disruptions anticipated throughout spring, while final items are completed. The rest area will be opened once pavement markings are completed.”
The project has also constructed a new scenic rest area facility for travellers to park.
Travelers using the highway during the years-long safety project were often subject to long delays and single-lane alternating traffic to get through the construction zone.
Commuter Al Titian who’s a boat captain with Cermaq travelled to and from the west coast weekly all throughout the long construction phase. He said the commuter bus his crew took to and from work would often get delayed waiting for the road to open, causing them to be late getting to work or home.
“We had to make the 8 a.m. opening getting into camp and then if you missed it you had to wait another hour or so,” Titian said. “A lot of hours [waiting]… you’d see people tossing the football or taking their dogs for a walk. There’s a little beach you can see where the construction’s happening so I’d sit there for an hour or so and watch what was going on.”
Titian said with the road closures and delays, Cermaq crews would need to make sure they were on the bus leaving Tofino at the right time to make the planned openings.
“Before the construction was happening we’d leave Tofino at 2 p.m. and then when the construction started happening, we’d have to be out at a certain time to make that opening,” Titian said. “Some people would be getting home between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. because the bus starts in Tofino, stops in Port Alberni and then goes to Nanaimo and Campbell River.”
Now that construction is complete, Titian said the bus is back to its normal schedule of leaving Tofino at 3 p.m.
“I’m glad it’s open,” Titian said. “I’ve been there from day one of construction to the end and you’re not so used to running right through there. You get so used to that routine of stopping and waiting.