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Highway to Tofino, Ucluelet opened to alternating traffic after bridge installed

Timelapse shows Highway 4 road condition before collapse
WATCH: Video shows a timelapse of road conditions on Highway 4 near Tofino before a construction blast blockage shut down access.

After days of isolation due to a “major road failure,” people living in Tofino and Ucluelet can finally move in and out of the communities.

The Ministry of Transportation announced late Saturday that Highway 4 was reopened to single-lane, alternating traffic after crews installed a portable 20-metre, single-lane bridge over a collapsed portion of the road.

The collapse happened during a blasting mishap by crews performing safety upgrades on the highway early Thursday morning, blocking the only route to the Vancouver Island coastal communities.

READ MORE: Road to Tofino, Ucluelet to be temporarily reopened for essential traffic Friday

The reopening happened much sooner than expected, as the ministry had previously estimated the bridge may not be fully in place until Sunday afternoon.

However, crews found the bedrock at Kennedy Hill was much deeper than expected, allowing the bridge to be inset into the road grade rather than above it.

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Rock clearing blast damages B.C. highway
Rock clearing blast damages B.C. highway

Having the bridge above the grade would have required a “substantial amount of approach ramp work,” the ministry explained, while additional crews also sped the work along.

Expected delays due to the alternating traffic Saturday evening and Sunday morning were expected to clear by the afternoon.

“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure thanks motorists and residents on both sides of the closure for their patience,” the ministry said in a statement.

READ MORE: ‘Major road failure’ during blasting isolates Tofino, Ucluelet from rest of Vancouver Island

“The ministry also recognizes the crews who worked around the clock to open the highway as quickly as possible.”

Previously-scheduled closures due to the ongoing construction work at the site will resume Sunday night. Drivers are asked to check Drive BC for all construction and closure updates.

The blasting that caused the rockfall was part of a $38-million safety upgrade to the Kennedy Hill portion of Highway 4 for work on a 1.5-kilometre stretch adjacent to Kennedy Lake.