British Columbia

Travellers to Tofino urged to rebook due to limited highway access

Travellers heading to and from Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park will have a limited window to get to their destination after a section of Highway 4 west of Port Alberni was badly damaged in a rock slide.

Highway 4 will be reopened for light pickup trucks and passenger vehicles on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon

The produce aisle is running low on fruits and vegetables at a Tofino co-op after a rockslide, due to limited highway access. (@Josie_Osborne/Mayor of Tofino)

Travellers looking for a scenic coastal holiday to Tofino or nearby communities are being warned they may want to rebook this weekend due to limited highway access which has resulted in low fuel supplies and empty store shelves at a local co-op grocery store.

Road access has been limited since early Thursday when a rock blast, undertaken as part of a road improvement project, resulted in a slide that caused major damage to Highway 4, taking away the shoulder and one lane of the highway on the side of a steep cliff.

The B.C. Transportation Ministry said Friday contractors had managed to secure one lane of the road at Kennedy Hill permitting passenger vehicles or light pickups to travel between noon and 8 p.m. Friday.

Late Friday it also announced a limited opening for Saturday, Jan. 25 between 8 a.m. and noon for passenger vehicles and light pickups only, before a portable bridge is installed.

A statement from the ministry said the goal is to have Highway 4 reopened to single-lane alternating traffic for regular and commercial vehicles on Sunday afternoon.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne is advising travellers that getting to her community this weekend is a challenge for now and to come for a visit another time.

"We highly recommend you contact your hotel that you'd like to postpone or rebook your trip, because it looks like access is going to continue to be difficult throughout the weekend."

The damage to Highway 4 was caused by a scheduled blast that damaged the road, shutting down road access to and from Tofino, Ucluelet and surrounding communities. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

She said people are remaining calm about the situation and have a good sense of humour about it.

"I got the last bag of ruffles potato chips, so maybe I'm really lucky, but I think it's pretty standard. Everybody says milk, bread, eggs, these are things that typically go fast," said Osborne.

The general manager at Tofino Co-op, Mike Tomlin, said the store is running low on groceries, but the main problem is the lack of gas for pumps if trucks are not allowed into the community soon.

"The biggest concern right now is, I'll probably have to shut down the fuel supply."

Although road access has been limited, Osborne said it's important for people to know protocols are in place for emergency evacuations and medical emergencies.

With files from Canadian Press

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