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

Quamichan Lake area a hot spot for bear sightings

WildSafeBC continues education programs for Valley residents

Robert Barron column: School bus rules should be respected

Motorists must NEVER pass a school bus with its stop lights flashing.

‘Nutcracker’ a hit with Cowichan audiences

A big crowd was entranced Saturday, Dec. 7 when the Royal City… Continue reading

Andrea Rondeau column: Remembering the windstorm of 2018; how prepared are you for an emergency?

Last year on Dec. 20 the Cowichan Valley was walloped by the worst windstorm in memory in the region.

Sarah Simpson Column: The good deed that blew up in my face

Why I’ll be ordering take-our delivery pizza from now on

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read