Truck Routes

Posted By Scott Casey : Scott has written “Ghostkeepers” a book about his years as a gun toting truck driver while serving as a Canadian Peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. On 2021-09-10 17:00:51

There is a long-contested piece
of highway in British Columbia
known for its scenic 95km stretch
between the town of Merritt and
the city of Kamloops. The highway
meanders through a valley of lakes
and windswept cattle ranches. With
the exception of the 2km long, 8%
grade of Cardew Hill just ten minutes
from Kamloops, Hwy 5A is relatively
flat. Just before the city limits of
Kamloops, there is the Knoff Lake
Brake Check. Then it’s down the hill
and off to points east.

When leaving Merritt, the two and
three-lane Coquihalla, unlike its little
two-lane sister, begins with a thirty-five-minute pull up a 7% grade to the
summit at Helmer road. That uphill
beginning is followed by the infamous
Moose Alley in the hollow north of
Surrey Lake summit. Then fifteen
minutes further, there is the 6% decent
leaving the Inks Lake Brake Check
down to yet another brake check and
the government weigh scales. From
there, it’s another long hill and all
points east.

This story has conflicting arguments
that find Hwy 5A in the middle of a
No Truck Route
dispute. The
Coquihalla was built
with the direction
of streamlining
all traffic between
Vancouver and
the East. This
includes commercial
vehicles.

The argument by many truckers is
that Hwy 5A is easier on fuel and tires
because of the single short hill than the
long steep grades of the Coquihalla.
The cross debate is made with the
knowledge that to get to Merritt from
either Hope or Kelowna, there are two
major mountain ranges to climb before
arriving in Merritt. So what’s one more
hill that isn’t nearly as extreme as the
preceding routes?

There is also the factor of the
government weigh station. Hwy 5A
doesn’t have a permanent weigh scale.
So it’s believed many truckers go that
route to avoid the scrutiny of CVSE.

Then there is the collision factor.
Both highways see several commercial
vehicle collisions each year. But here
is where the gap in splitting hairs
narrows. Because the Coquihalla is a
four-lane highway, with sections that
are three lanes in one direction, there
are fewer collisions, fewer fatalities,
and fewer highway closures.

The 5A, in contrast, with its narrow
winding two lanes, is often torn asunder
by commercial vehicle rollovers that
close the highway for hours at a time,
even without the unfortunate loss of
life in a fatality collision. In almost all
cases, commercial vehicle collisions
on Hwy 5A are predominately driver
error.

So at what point is it a matter of
public safety to close a highway to
commercial vehicles?


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