With the province setting new, and much broader, chain up regulations for commercial trucks, the B.C. Trucking Association says that will create pressure points along highways, including the Coquihalla.
BCTA President and CEO Dave Earle says while there is a big new chain up area at the bottom of the Snowshed hill, that is the exception for the rest of the Coquihalla, not the rule.
Earle says other chain up areas will likely need significant expansion.
“We are really going to have to play it a little bit by ear and see how things go,” he said. “In years past, we have seen where commercial traffic backs up on to the right lane of the highway waiting to get into the brake check to do the chain up.”
“It is going to depend on traffic volumes. It is going to depend on snow volumes as well.”
He says it is an issue the BCTA continues to lobby the province to take action on especially now at the top of the Snowshed hill.
The Ministry of Transportation acknowledges it may need to expand chain up areas for commercial trucks along the rest of the Coquihalla.
Ministry of Transportation Southern Interior Executive Director Mike Lorimer admits chain up capacity is an issue.
“There are other hills like Larson Hill. We are going to start taking a look at some engineering whether a chain up facility there is feasible. Whether there is improvements we can make or some capacity improvements. It is definitely something we are alive too and starting to look at basically as truck volumes increase on the road.”
That said Lorimer adds any work to expand current chain up areas or build new ones will not be cheap.
He notes the new Box Canyon chain up area at the bottom of the snowshed hill cost something in the area of 16-million-dollars.
Lorimer says adding to the situation is climate change pushing heavy wet coastal snow past the snowshed hill and farther along the Coquihalla, which is an issue.