Coquihalla Highway 5 reopens to essential commercial traffic

The Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) has reopened between Hope and Merritt to essential commercial vehicles only following a month of extensive repairs, the B.C. government said in a press release on Monday.

The highway was closed by multiple washouts on Nov. 14

Bridge panel being replaced on Hwy. 5
Jessica Bridge southbound panel installation on Highway 5. (Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

“The people who build and maintain roads in B.C. have a reputation second to none, and their response to the recent disaster has been remarkable,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure. “Ministry teams, maintenance contractors and hundreds of workers going flat out in challenging conditions have allowed us to reopen the Coquihalla Highway today, giving B.C.’s commercial drivers a safe, efficient route between the coast and Interior.”

Effective Monday, Highway 5 is available to commercial vehicles with a minimum licensed gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 11,794 kilograms.

With most commercial vehicles moving to Highway 5, travel restrictions will be lifted from Highway 3 at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, allowing the route between Hope and Princeton to be used for non-essential travel.

Currently Highway 3 is handling between 3,000 and 4,000 trucks a day, Dave Earle, president and CEO, BC Trucking Association told sister publication Today’s Trucking. Normally that route peaks in summer at about 1,200 a day.

Travel restrictions have also been lifted from Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet. However, vehicles over 14,500 kilograms GVW are still not permitted on this section of Highway 99.

When travel restrictions are lifted from Highway 3 and Highway 99, these routes become available for general use. For drivers travelling these highways, the ministry urges preparation and patience. Drivers can expect delays and congestion and are encouraged to consider alternate options or avoid highway travel unless necessary.

“Having use of the Coquihalla Highway brings more predictability to the movement of goods through British Columbia,” Earle said. “This an important step toward restoring our supply chain, and our members appreciate the extraordinary efforts of everyone involved.”

Drivers are reminded that B.C.’s winter tire and chain-up regulations are in effect. Other safety tips for winter driving apply, including travelling with a full tank of gas, food and water, and warm clothes.

Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at leo@newcom.ca