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B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.
The No Trucks in the Left Lane program starts this week and will be in effect on the Coquihalla’s Snowshed Hill between Box Canyon and Zopkios.
It will restrict commercial vehicles from using the far left lane on this stretch of highway, with other B.C. Interior routes potentially to follow suit.
The Ministry says that they’re starting with this portion of the Coquihalla because it heavily relied on by both passenger and commercial vehicles as a connection between the B.C. Interior and Lower Mainland.
With snowfall rates sometimes exceeding 10 centimetres an hour and often coming down heavy and wet in the area, it can create tough road conditions for these large trucks.
“Over the past couple of winter seasons, commercial vehicles on the Coquihalla have been spinning out in climbing sections more frequently during storms,” said a release from the Ministry. “In fact, last winter, 33 of 35 extended closures on the Coquihalla during last winter 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).”
Since the Coquihalla is a divided highway, the closures are often made worse by the fact that plows get caught in the traffic queue behind the blockage, which leaves the rest of the highway unplowed.
The No Trucks in the Left Lane program aims to maintain better traffic flow, especially for plows and emergency vehicles, and reduce the time it takes to re-establish the normal traffic flow following an incident or closure.
The Ministry of Transportation also hopes that the new and recently opened Box Canyon Chain Up area will convince more commercial vehicles to follow the rules and chain up before attempting to summit the Coquihalla.
It can hold up to 70 commercial vehicles at a time and can accommodate oversized loads as well.