Highway washout cuts off access to Vancouver Island communities
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December 03, 2016 - 2:30 PM
UCLUELET, B.C. - DriveBC says a highway washout is cutting off access to the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The washout has closed off traffic in both directions on Highway 4 about five kilometres from the Ucluelet Junction since Friday afternoon.
The highway is the main access road connecting Tofino and Ucluelet with the rest of the island, and no detour route has yet been made available.
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says the road closure has inconvenienced some people — particularly tourists who have either extended their stay or cancelled their trips — but is otherwise not a cause for concern.
She says having one main access road to the rest of the island has always posed a challenge and the community's emergency planing accounts for that.
Engineers are expected to be assessing the site on Saturday and Osborne says residents are waiting for updates on whether a detour route will be established and when the road will be repaired.
Osborne says she had driven past the site of the washout three times over the past week and could see the hole in the roadway expand.
The community has dealt with occasional road closures due to flooding or a slide in the past, but those usually only last a few hours.
Osborne says the washout is a reminder that big rain events and ongoing erosion can cause significant problems for the roadways in the region.
"Although we focus a lot on major events like earthquakes or big disasters, it's much more realistic to think of some kind of highway event that might close the road for several days or weeks, and so understanding what alternatives are out there and how prepared we are is something we have to accommodate here," she says.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016