The Government of British Columbia announced that beginning Monday, July 17, 2023, crews will undertake essential rock scaling on the hillside affected by wildfire along Highway 4 on Vancouver Island.

This work is critical in ensuring the long-term safety of the corridor.

A geotechnical assessment of the bluff has determined rock scaling is required before the highway can be safely reopened to two-way traffic at Cameron Lake Bluffs. This work will involve removing loose rocks above the highway. While this work is underway, the highway must be closed to keep crews and travellers safe from rockfall hazards.

Closures will be in place from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday to Friday until mid August, with a two-hour opening to flush traffic daily between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. There will be no closures on weekends, including on the B.C. Day long weekend. Given the nature of this work, rock scaling must be completed during good weather and daylight hours.

“This is a crucial step to ensure Highway 4 can fully reopen as soon as possible, end single-lane-alternating traffic, and keep goods and people moving into our western communities,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “We know this has been a challenging time for businesses and the tourism sector on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and we thank people for their patience as we work as quickly as possible to get this main corridor safely operating at full capacity again.”

Outside of the closure periods for rock scaling, Highway 4 will continue to operate with single-lane-alternating traffic, and will remain available for residents, travellers and commercial traffic. The ministry urges all drivers to use patience and plan trips accordingly as traffic queues are expected to be lengthy.

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The detour route will remain open for public use. Oversized loads requiring permits are required to take the detour.

“This has been a difficult season for our all of our communities, and the faster we can get Highway 4 fully reopened, the faster we can count on the travel we rely on to support people and businesses in this region,” said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “We’re grateful for the hard work of the crews who are keeping the highway and detour route safe for travel, and we continue to welcome visitors to our beautiful region of the Island.”

The highway was closed on June 6, 2023, as crews fought the Cameron Lake Bluffs wildfire and performed recovery operations. A detour was established between Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan using forest-service and privately owned industrial roads. Single-lane-alternating traffic has been in place along Highway 4 since June 23.

Featured image: B.C. Highway 4-Cameron Lake Bluffs Wildfire-Rockfall fencing installation. (BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

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