A portion of the Coquihalla Highway will now feature commercial vehicle restrictions, the provincial government announced Wednesday.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said starting this week, it will be restricting commercial vehicles from using the far left lane on the Snowshed Hill section of the Coquihalla, between Box Canyon and Zopkios. The province is calling it the ‘No Trucks in the Left Lane’ program and says other highway sections in B.C.’s Interior could fall under the program as well.
According to the Ministry, the Coquihalla is one of the province’s busiest mountain passes. The highway also experiences extreme snowfalls, with accumulation sometimes exceeding 10 centimetres per hour.
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The province says of the 35 extended closures that happened on the Coquihalla last year, 33 involved commercial vehicles.
Specifically, the government said it is focusing on the Coquihalla because heavy, wet snow between Hope and Merritt creates tricky road conditions, even with minor accumulations. The Ministry said over the past two winters, commercial vehicles have been spinning out in climbing sections more frequently during storms. In fact, the Ministry said 33 of 35 extended closures on the Coquihalla during last winter involved commercial vehicles.
The Ministry said what makes these closures even worse is that because the Coquihalla is a divided highway, snowplows often get caught in traffic lineups and, because of roadside barriers, are unable to turn around.
The province says a benefit of the new program will be better flowing traffic, which, in turn, will prevent snowplows from getting caught up in traffic lineups.
The Ministry added by by restricting commercial vehicles from using the far left lane on Snowshed Hill, better traffic flow will be achieved.
The province noted that it has recently constructed and opened the Box Canyon chain-up area, a section that will accommodate up to 70 commercial vehicles.
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