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Truckers not allowed in left lane on parts of Coquihalla Highway

Last Updated Nov 14, 2018 at 8:34 pm PDT

Commercial vehicles tend to spin out on the Coquihalla's inclines if they are not chained up. (Source: Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure website)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Commercial trucks are not allowed in the left hand lane of a portion of the Coquihalla Highway starting this week.

A pilot project by B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation aims to reduce the amount of spin-outs by commercial trucks that back up traffic during the winter months. The ministry is restricting commercial vehicles in the far left lane on the Coquihalla’s Snowshed Hill between Box Canyon and Zopkios.

“Even with regular plowing and sanding, snow and slush accumulates on the road surface quickly, reducing traction and visibility,” reads a statement on the ministry’s website. “Add a spun out commercial vehicle (or more) to the mix and things can get messy really quickly.”

It adds that over the past few winters, trucks have been spinning out more frequently on the highway’s inclines, closing down sections for extended periods of time.

“What makes these closures even 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,” the ministry adds.

Dave Earle, president of the BC Trucking Association, says this is a good move and he is happy the province is opening up a chain-up area for truckers at Box Canyon.

“We do look forward to government having expanded the enforcement activities for chain-up requirements,” he says. “Once you have one individual who doesn’t abide by the law, if they end up blocking that right lane, that means everybody is going to be weaving in and out that right lane.”

Earle warns that snow on the highway fall and accumulate very quickly, causing slippery conditions for drivers.

“Up to 10, 15 cm an hour can fall, so it can come very, very suddenly,” he adds.

Bob Gilowksi speaks for VSA Highway Maintenance and is also a fan of the ministry’s announcement. He says their plows often get caught up in the traffic caused by spin-outs.

“By keeping transport trucks out of the left-hand lane both going up and coming down Snowshed hill, that’s going to always allow our plow vehicles to cycle through what is known as the Box Canyon area through to the Zopkios area,” Gilkowski tells NEWS 1130. “If we can’t get through, we can’t drop our plows or put our braces down to remove the snow and improve traction.”

He reminds people that winter conditions are in effect on B.C.’s highways and to watch out for plow trucks and stay well back of them.