Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel is unhappy with how commuters are being treated at the Kennedy Hill Improvement Project construction site. (Westerly file photo)

Ucluelet mayor demands Wi-Fi for commuters stuck in Hwy. 4 construction closures

“Once you get into that dead zone, you’re just in the abyss.”

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel is urging the provincial government to bring wireless internet access to both ends of the current Kennedy Hill construction project so that motorists can be updated on what’s happening ahead of them.

“Once you get into that dead zone, you’re just in the abyss,” Noel told the Westerly News on Thursday. “We’re not talking about going to WalMart everyday. We’re talking about people going to doctors’ appointments, people missing their specialist appointments, people missing their flights and they can’t even communicate and get accurate information. The only people that get accurate information are the first 5-10 cars in the lineup. I have continued to bring this conversation up and I am really, really sick and tired of it.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Highway closures hit travellers heading in and out of Tofino and Ucluelet

Heavy rainfall caused a washout between Toquart Bay Road and Nahmit Forest Service Road on Wednesday, shutting the highway down in both directions and, while updates were provided through DriveBC, drivers caught in the closure could not access those updates as the area does not have cell service or wireless internet access.

“Half the town was screwed yesterday,” Noel said. “Every traveling motorist out there is being negatively impacted. I’m not slagging the contractors in any way, they have a very tough job to do and it’s compounded in this typical West Coast weather that we get.”

READ MORE: Highway 4 reopens after washout at Kennedy Hill construction site

Noel suggested that outside of Wednesday afternoon’s washout, scheduled closures associated with the ongoing $33 million Kennedy Hill Improvement Project have been consistently inconsistent and that’s increased frustration.

“There’s not anybody that can say that there’s been consistency with the openings,” he said. “They continue to change how they open the lineup and it’s a frustration. When are they going to start listening and provide us Wi-Fi services at either end of the worksite so we can actually communicate?”

READ MORE: Rock blasting debris shuts down highway between Tofino-Ucluelet and rest of Vancouver Island

He said Wi-Fi would allow commuters to get up to date information about any delays and contact the people waiting for them on the other side of the highway.

“I am not attacking the contractor, I am attacking the fact that there is no communication,” he said. “[The Ministry of] Highways need to get with the program and realize that connecting motorists when they’re being interrupted needs to be one of their top priorities on top of moving people around this province.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Frequent closures on only highway in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet expected to continue until Summer of 2020

Noel said he was penning a letter to B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on Thursday to reemphasize his concerns.

“I bring this up repeatedly every time I have the opportunity and this is another opportunity. We could have this weather until April and, if we have that, they’re going to have upsets and there needs to be better lines of communication. We’re not talking just about tourism here, we’re talking about fish trucks; we’re talking about our goods and services,” he said. “If we lived in more of an urban setting, like Parksville, Campbell River or Victoria, this wouldn’t be tolerated…Let’s just get on with this.”

The Westerly News has reached out to the ministry for comment and will update this story when new information comes in.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Construction on Hwy. 4 halted after tree crashes into traffic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VALLEY SENIORS: Sunshine Servers serve up a good time in Port Alberni

The group, formed in 2004, has volunteered hundreds of hours in the community

Young Alberni filmmakers win ‘Best Picture’ in youth film fest

‘Hope’ is high school students Richard Spencer and Miranda Chen’s first foray into film

Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department promotes deputy to chief

Mike Kobus replaces Charlie Starratt in Alberni Valley-based fire hall

City approves $10M to finish Port Alberni’s wastewater treatment plant

Money won’t come from taxation, but will affect sewer user fees, says city CAO

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Most Read