Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Starting this week, the B.C. provincial government has banned commercial vehicles from using the far left lane on the Coquihalla’s Snowshed Hill between Box Canyon and Zopkios.

The move is the first in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s No Trucks in the Left Lane pilot program, with other select routes in the B.C. Interior to possibly follow.

The Coquihalla Highway is one of the province’s busiest mountain passes with both passenger and commercial vehicles relying on it as a primary connection between the Lower Mainland and the Interior.

It also experiences extreme snowfall rates, with accumulation sometimes exceeding 10 centimeters per hour.

“That’s a lot of white stuff coming down. Even with regular plowing and sanding; snow and slush accumulates on the road surface quickly, reducing traction and visibility. Add a spun out commercial vehicle (or more) to the mix and things can get messy really quickly,” writes the ministry.

The government states it chose that section of road between Hope and Merritt for Phase 1 as the snow is heavy and wet there, creating tricky road conditions for trucks, even with minor accumulations on the road surface.

“Over the past couple of winter seasons, commercial vehicles on the Coquihalla have been spinning out in climbing sections more frequently during storms,” adds the ministry.

“In fact, last winter, 33 of 35 extended closures on the Coquihalla involved commercial vehicles. At times this meant commercial vehicles were blocking the highway until they could either be towed away, or equipped with chains (which they should have already had on their vehicles).”

Read more: Speed limits being reduced on 15 B.C. highways

Read more: Speed limit hikes caused more fatalities on B.C. highways: Study

What makes the road closures worse is that, because the Coquihalla is a divided highway, snow plows often get caught in the traffic queue behind the blockage, restricted by roadside barriers and unable to turn around.

“We hope to prevent a repeat of that trend this year by restricting commercial vehicles from using the far left lane on Snowshed Hill,” reads the government release.

“We’ve chosen to pilot this restriction on Snowshed Hill specifically, because our Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement focuses a large part of their enforcement efforts on this location during the winter months and this is the location where trucks spin out the most.”

By restricting trucks from the left lane, the government assumes traffic flow will be better maintained (including emergency vehicles) and plowing operations, as well as significantly reduce the time it takes to re-establish the flow of traffic after a vehicle incident/closure.

“We’ve also recently constructed and opened the Box Canyon Chain Up area (located on the Coquihalla, before Snowshed Hill). We’re expecting commercial vehicles to use this facility when snow falls on the Coquihalla, in advance of heading over the summit. The facility can hold up to 70 commercial vehicles at a time and can also accommodate oversized loads as well,” adds the release.

“The safety and mobility of the travelling public are our top priorities. We hope that this change will help both of these over the coming winter on the Coquihalla.”

Related: Coquihalla fully reopen after crashes send 29 to hospital

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

New walking paths will make community safer, more accessible

District of Clearwater anticipates construction will begin in the late summer or early fall

Blue River helicopter skiing entrepreneur to receive honorary doctorate from TRU

Mike Wiegele will receive his degree during convocation ceremonies being held next month

Clearwater RCMP report

RCMP responded to 48 calls for service last week.

Annual May Day parade offers weekend fun

Roughly 150 people show up to check out the procession

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Nisga’a Nation tourism industry hits the road

First pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Most Read