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.

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

 

Just Posted

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Kelowna Rockets?

This quiz challenges the knowledge of those who claim to be the biggest Rockets fans

12-year-old Kelowna resident celebrates birthday with help of community

The community greeted Kate Pauling with ballons, banners and gifts along her paper route on Friday

COVID-19: More infected passengers on planes flying to and from Okanagan and Kamloops airports

The BC Centre of Disease Control has identified numerous flights with COVID-19 cases

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

Okanagan nordic centre loses out on 2021 nationals

Sovereign Lake near Vernon was to host 2020 Canadian championships, canceled due to COVID-19

COVID-19: North Okanagan spring leagues wiped out

Ladies softball, indoor and beach volleyball leagues shut down over pandemic

Most Read