Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser has taken ministry of transportation staffers for a precarious ride—along Highway 4 from Port Alberni to Tofino.
Fraser requested this tour last year when Shirley Bond was still the minister of transportation.
“Following the tragic loss of two paramedics in a fatal accident at Kennedy Lake last fall, and concerns raised around the road conditions by constituents, I asked the minister to tour the highway with me to see the road first hand,” Fraser said.
Last week he drove with assistant deputy minister of transportation David Duncan, South Coast regional director Patrick Livolsi, Vancouver Island District operations manager Jim Symington and Shanna Mason, executive director of highways operation.
Transportation minister Blair Lekstrom did not make the trip.
The personnel who did accompany Fraser saw firsthand evidence of continued upgrading over the past 10 years. Bridges have been upgraded or replaced, sections widened, stretches resurfaced, roadside barriers upgraded and rumble strips and new signage installed.
However, much more needs to be done, Fraser said.
“There’s lots of sections of that highway where the lanes are very thin and there aren’t event any fog lines on the outside. These are cheap fixes,” he said, adding that the transportation ministry has committed to making a few minor changes.
However, a much bigger plan will have to be created to fix the road in the future, he said. The road bed is sinking in many cases and a long-range plan must be created. “They’re moving people faster in some sections but the same bottlenecks exist in others,” he explained.
Fraser came away from the meeting with some assurances that the transportation ministry will put safety first when it comes to Highway 4 toward Tofino, and will keep him informed of their plans.
“I’m pleased with their response to me,” he said.
Since he had a captive audience in the car, Fraser said he asked about an alternate access into Port Alberni using Horne Lake Road. He brought up the Raven Coal proposal that would see coal trucks travelling every hour from Fanny Bay to Port Alberni.
“I explained there was no support from anyone in the Alberni Valley or the West Coast of having to give up their highway for this industrial use that would have very little, if any, benefit to the region,” Fraser said.