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Travels of a Trucker Up the Coquihalla

November 19, 2011

The Coquihalla

The Coquihalla. Just the name of it sends chills down driver’s spines each winter. Accident upon accident. Jack-knifed semi’s. Driver’s who refused to chain up blocking the hill. Massive amounts of snowfall and treacherous driving conditions. These are but a few signs that winter has come and The Coquihalla makes it’s presence known again in our Vancouver region. The Summit of the Coquihalla is approximately 1200 meters and in the winter it is well within the “snow zone” 24 hours a day. From Black Ice to heavy snowfall, the Coquihalla sees it all. Generally conditions improve during the day, but there are some days when it does not improve for days on end and the snowplows cannot keep up.

This is but one of those days when the conditions were clear after a huge snowfall. Cars and trucks had compacted the snow so that driving was like driving on glare ice. Safe to drive on unless you decided to hit your brakes hard.

The Coquihalla or Highway 5a is a major point of travel between Vancouver and Kamloops and onward to Calgary, Alberta or further points East or North to Edmonton. It was built off the Old Highway 1 corridor snaking it’s way over and down a few mountains. It’s purpose was to help the flow of goods travel faster from Vancouver to other cities. It’s shorter distance means saving an extra 45 minutes off a drive between the 2 points.

However, in winter when driving conditions are treacherous and chains are required, most drivers will travel the lower highway 1 risking the extra time than having to put chains on. Sometimes even the lower road can be treacherous and the flow of goods is delayed and trucks are parked everywhere waiting out the severe weather longer. At times like these I rely on current weather forecasts from DriveBC and chain up information from the C.V.S.E. Website.

http://www.drivebc.ca/

http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/roadreports/Chains/chains.asp

This image was taken from Highway 5 (The Coquihalla)

Hwy 1 – Trans Canada Highway:
Hope: Eastbound (Lake of the Woods): CHAIN UP IN EFFECT.
Hope: Eastbound (Avalanche gate east of Yale): CHAIN UP IN EFFECT.
Hope: Eastbound (Alexandra Pit): CHAIN UP IN EFFECT.
Boston Bar: Westbound (1 km west): CHAIN UP IN EFFECT.

Revelstoke: Eastbound (Albert Canyon): Chain up not in effect.
Rogers Pass: Eastbound (Sir Donald): Chain up not in effect.
Rogers Pass: Eastbound (Heather Hill): Chain up not in effect.
Rogers Pass: Westbound (Beaver Hill): Chain up not in effect.
Hwy 1: Westbound (Donald Hill): Chain up not in effect.

Golden Hill: Eastbound (east side of Golden): Chain up not in effect.
5 Mile Hill: Westbound (5 miles east of Golden): Chain up not in effect.
10 Mile Hill: Eastbound (10 miles east of Golden): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Highway 3 – Southern Trans-Provincial
Hope: Eastbound (15 km east of Highway 5 Jct): Chain up not in effect.
Hope: Both directions (36 km east of Highway 5 Jct): Chain up not in effect.

Christina Lake: Eastbound (Grand Forks side): Chain up not in effect.
Lafferty Pit: Eastbound (Grand Forks side): Chain up not in effect.
Paulson Bridge: Eastbound (Grand Forks side): Chain up not in effect.
Mud Lake: Westbound (5.3 km west of Nancy Green Jct with Hwy #3B): Chain up not in effect.

Highway 3 – Southern Trans-Provincial – Kootenay Pass:
Eastbound: (West side of the summit): Chain up not in effect.
Westbound: (East side of the summit): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Hwy 3A
Eastbound: (Kootenay Bay to Crawford Bay): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Hwy 3B
Westbound: (Trail to Rossland – The Gulch): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Hwy 5 – Coquihalla Highway
Northbound: Sowaqua (15 km north of Hope): Chain up not in effect.
Northbound: Portia (26 km north of Hope): Chain up not in effect.
Northbound: Box Canyon (33 km north of Hope): CHAIN UP IN EFFECT.
Northbound: Nicola (6 km north of Merritt): Chain up not in effect.

Southbound: Clapperton (5 km south of Exit 315 @ Helmer): Chain up not in effect.
Southbound: Zopkios (70 km south of Merritt): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Hwy 6
Both directions: (Silverton Hill @ New Denver): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Hwy 22
Northbound: (Paterson to Rossland): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Hwy 97
Southbound: (South Taylor Hill – 800 m south of Taylor): Chain up not in effect.
——————————————————————————
Highway 97C – Okanagan Connector
Westbound: Brenda Mines (14 km west of Peachland): Chain up not in effect.
Eastbound: Loon Lake (36 km east of Merritt): Chain up not in effect.

As you can see, from the Chain up report both the lower highway and the upper Highway are both Chaining up. These conditions and Chain up can change frequently depending on the weather conditions and the speed at which road crews can clear the road. generally speaking if it is chain up, the road crews cannot keep up with the accumulated snowfall. It would be at this time I would be finding a nice cozy spot, pulling over and taking a little siesta. Better to be safe than sorry in my opinion and regardless of the load, it can wait a few hours.

There are days however, when travel is absolutely beautiful. No snow, nothing to bother anyone.

The Coquihalla was actually built about 24 years ago (1987). It’s purpose as stated was to make it faster. When it was built, it was built as a Toll Highway and for about 20 years it was tolled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coquihalla_Highway

Three  years ago our Premier announced that the tolls were coming off it. I am sure there many who lost their Government paid jobs with the closure and were offered new positions or were given severance packages. All in all a lot of people were happy that the toll came off the road. I for one, in the summer was relieved it had came off since I now had the option of which route I wanted to take.

So the next time you are driving in winter, even if it is not the Coquihalla, just remember to drive safe, watch the road, stay alert and keep er sunny side up. Thanks for reading. If you like my blog posts, please feel free to follow along by email.

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One Comment
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