Roads & Paving
B.C.’s tourism industry fears roadwork may deter visitors
April 4, 2022 By Don Horne
The fallout from last fall’s disastrous flooding in B.C. is having a trickledown effect on tourism, as road repair work begins in earnest.
For those with plans that include a road trip which involves travelling the Malahat highway, they should be aware of a major project that’s set to begin this summer.
“We recently just got our tender posted on BC Bid for the Malahat repairs following November’s atmospheric river event,” said Janelle Staite, deputy director for the south coast region with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
That project will see the retaining wall completely rebuilt and the highway will be restored to its original configuration.
The project will last into the summer of 2023, and for those 25,000 vehicles that travel the Malahat on a daily basis, there could be some delays.
“Generally speaking we’re looking to work outside of the peak periods,” said Staite. “We recognize the Malahat is a key commuter corridor.”
It’s hoped that if closures are needed for construction, they will happen overnight. At times, there may be a need for single lane, alternating traffic during the day, according to the ministry.
There is good news. The ongoing Kennedy Hill project heading into Tofino has hit a milestone, eliminating the midday closures between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
“Kennedy Hill is progressing quite well,” said Staite.
It’s still single lane alternating traffic, but that traffic is flowing once again.
Still, some say the upcoming travel impacts will have an effect on local tourism.
“It’s almost a perfect storm,” said Chris Foord, a retired transportation planner. “Getting here could be a problem. It’s going to forcibly put a lid on how many tourist can be accommodated.”
As summer approaches, expectations are high that tourism in the region will make a post-pandemic comeback; but getting those tourists here, however, could be an issue.
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