New bridge installed on Highway 4, restoring road access to Island's west coast
VANCOUVER -- Construction crews were able to install a new bridge at the site of a landslide on Highway 4 on Vancouver Island more quickly than anticipated Saturday night.
In a statement issued around 8 p.m., B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said the highway - which is the only roadway connecting communities on Vancouver Island's west coast, including Tofino and Ucluelet, to the rest of the island - had reopened to single-lane, alternating traffic.
Crews worked throughout the day Saturday to install a pre-fabricated, 20-metre, single-lane bridge at the site of a landslide near Kennedy Hill, which had cut off traffic to the coast since Thursday morning.
The landslide happened during a scheduled blast that was part of ongoing road maintenance work in the area. The ministry said "an unexpectedly large volume of rock" fell on the road, forcing the closure.
On Saturday, the ministry had indicated that the installation of the bridge would continue overnight and into Sunday, but that timeline proved to be overly long.
In its statement, the ministry said the quicker-than-expected installation of the bridge was the result of deeper-than-expected bedrock in the area.
"This allowed for the bridge to be inset into the road grade, rather than above it, which would have required a substantial amount of approach ramp work," the ministry said, noting that construction time was also reduced by bringing in extra workers and equipment.
After the slide, the highway opened several times to allow small, passenger vehicles through, but the road was not open to larger vehicles, including commercial trucks.
After three days without deliveries to the area, shortages of fresh food and fuel were beginning to affect Tofino and other stranded communities, and residents had begun looking into options for getting additional supplies to the area by boat.
The new bridge will allow all types of vehicles, including larger commercial trucks, to travel the highway. Additional closures of the road are scheduled as the province's Kennedy Hill road maintenance project continues. The ministry advises drivers to check DriveBC for more information on the closure schedule.