PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — B.C. officials are rethinking their blasting strategy for the Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project.
The team’s new blasting strategy will start on Sept. 30. Highway 4 will close weekdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to allow crews to safely facilitate smaller blasts and remove the rock debris from the roadway. This closure window will happen Monday through Friday, not on weekends.
The province stated it is making the changes so Vancouver Island travellers can have more predictable highway closures.
Before making the changes, crews did extensive onsite geotechnical investigations. They determined that the safest time to blast is during daylight hours which allows crews to safely and quickly remove loose rock after each blast.
The province added smaller and more precise daytime blasts, with sufficient time to clear debris, will make the process safer and reduce unplanned highway closures.
The province expects daytime blasting and scheduled road closures to be required until spring 2021. Next spring, after the bulk of the challenging blasting is complete, the project team will revisit plans to determine if night-time blasting can safely resume.
Blasting for the project is expected to be completed by next summer. The project is being carried out by Kelowna-based Emil Anderson Construction.
The project aims to improve safety and reliability for drivers going between Port Alberni and the west coast of Vancouver Island. Crews will widen the highway to accommodate two full lanes and paved shoulders, including a roadside barrier on the lake side of the highway. Also, realignments are being made to the highway to remove sharp blind corners, straighten the road and improve the safety and reliability of the highway for all drivers.
The project has proved challenging at times. Earlier this year, a blasting mishap caused a large amount of rock to fall, damaging Highway 4. Crews had to install a prefabricated, 20-metre, single-lane bridge so traffic could resume.