British Columbia Highway 4
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Pacific Rim Highway
|Length:||163 km (101 mi)|
|East end:||BC 19A in Qualicum Beach|
| BC 19 in Qualicum Beach
BC 4A in Coombs
|West end:||Tofino, Ucluelet|
|Major cities:||Qualicum Beach, Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet|
British Columbia Highway 4, known locally as the Alberni Highway to the east of Port Alberni and the Pacific Rim Highway to the west, is the longest east-west main vehicle route on Vancouver Island, with a total length of 163 km (101 mi). The original highway from Parksville to Alberni and Port Alberni was completed in 1942 and was originally designated as Highway 1A. It was re-designated as Highway 4 in 1953, and was extended in 1961 to the small community of Tofino, on the west coast of the Island. (See 'Related Routes' below regarding Highway 4A.)
The current Highway 4's eastern terminus is at an intersection with Highway 19A in Qualicum Beach, where the highway is known as Memorial Avenue. The highway starts off travelling due south for 2 km (1¼ mi) to an interchange with Highway 19. Another 2 km (1¼ mi) south of the interchange with Highway 19, Highway 4 meets a junction with an older Alberni Highway segment, now known as Highway 4A, at the small community of Hilliers in Coombs. Highway 4 veers directly west upon meeting this junction.
The majority of Highway 4's length is composed of a two-lane configuration. An abandoned spur of the E&N Railway parallels Highway 4 all the way from the coast to the city of Port Alberni.
West of Coombs Junction, Highway 4 travels for 11 km (7 mi) before meeting Cameron Lake. Highway 4 hugs the shore of Cameron Lake for 5 km (3 mi), then winds its way through MacMillan Provincial Park, which includes the well-known area of Cathedral Grove. After Cameron Lake, Highway 4 climbs for 8 km (5 mi) to the Port Alberni Summit—the highest point on the highway, known by locals as "The Hump", at which it crosses from the Regional District of Nanaimo into the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District—and then descends for 6 km (4 mi) to a spur that travels into the city centre of Port Alberni. Highway 4 actually enters the city limits of Port Alberni 2 km (1¼ mi) west of the main spur into the city, and 5 km (3 mi) later, exits Port Alberni via a bridge over the Somass River.
6 km (4 mi) west of the Somass River crossing, Highway 4 reaches the shore of Sproat Lake, following the lake shore west for 24 km (15 mi). Highway 4 goes through Sutton Pass William John Sutton another 10 km (6 mi) later and turns toward the south-southwest to follow the Kennedy River. This very winding bearing of Highway 4, which features very steep grades, continues for 23 km (14 mi) before reaching the southeast shore of Kennedy Lake. Highway 4 then follows the shore of Kennedy Lake southwest for 19 km (12 mi), then reaches a junction with a spur into the settlement of Ucluelet 5 km (3 mi) later. At the Tofino-Ucluelet junction, known locally as "The Junction," Highway 4 then makes a ninety-degree turn towards the northwest. 1 km (0.6 mi) later, Highway 4 enters the Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Highway 4 goes through the national park for 22 km (14 mi) northwest, finally terminating 11 km (7 mi) later at Tofino.
|Length:||10 km (6.2 mi)|
Highway 4A is the previous alignment of Highway 4 east of Coombs. The '4A' designation was originally assigned in 1968 to the current section of Highway 4 between Coombs and Qualicum Beach. The 4 and 4A alignments east and north of Coombs, respectively, switched designations when the Parksville to Mud Bay section of the Inland Island Highway was completed in 1996. This older spur of Highway 4 terminates in the east at Parksville, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Coombs.