Watch How We Get Through Winter on the Coquihalla

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UPDATE: Yellowhead Road & Bridge took over a new maintenance contract for SA 14/Coquihalla in July 2019 (replacing VSA). However, the Coquihalla Snowshed Protocol still applies.

The Coquihalla (BC Highway 5 from Hope to Merritt) is the province’s busiest mountain pass. At more than 1,200 metres in elevation, it’s also one of the routes hit hardest by heavy snowfall and other winter conditions.

Fear not… we have a plan, and a team of professionals to execute what we call: The Coquihalla Snowshed Protocol. When the snow flies, the team carries out a series of steps to make sure you safely make it up and over the summit.

Catch all the action in this video.

And remember… you can play a part in the Coquihalla Snowshed Protocol, too.

  • Commercial truck drivers: make sure you have chains, know how to put them on, and chain up if the sign is on.
    Head’s up! Chain up regulations have recently changed on high mountain passes, and we’ve implemented a
    No Trucks in the Left Lane policy.
  • Cars: make sure you have proper winter tires.
  • Know Before You Go – Check DriveBC. If you have to go and heavy snow is in the forecast, be aware that there are other routes available: BC Highway 1 and Highway 3 may have less snow. Don’t know? Don’t go.
  • If you do travel over the Coquihalla during the winter – SLOW DOWN and allow extra travel time.
  • Obey variable speed limit signs, which change depending on weather and road conditions. They are the law.
  • Remember: Standard speed limit signs are set for ideal driving conditions, and winter driving conditions are NOT ideal.

Having watched the video, have you experienced the Coquihalla Snowshed Protocol in action?

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Page 1 of 16 comments on “Watch How We Get Through Winter on the Coquihalla”

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  1. It looks like only one lane of traffic, where are the snow plots and sanders. Oh it’s a holiday which would require more money to pay employees to plow. I would think with all ICBC worry about road safety this would be a Plewes and cleared for safe driving.

    • Hi Alice,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Just to clarify – are you referring to the video showing one lane? If there is a single lane of traffic shown in the video, it could be because of a vehicle blocking the other lane?

  2. Another year, another bad year of road cleaning. I’ve drove Hwy 5 for years and it’s getting worse. I mostly see crews clearing snow from the shoulder to the Hwy. Rough roads beat up the trucks bad. Wish they would start caring more

    • Hi Anonymous and thanks for your comment. Just to clarify, you see crews moving snow from the shoulder area to the highway itself? Is there a particular stretch you are concerned about on Highway 5?

  3. Thanks for video. But sorry to say that snowplower doesn’t do their job near zopkios brake check. Many truckers even think that their authority has a deal with tow companies. We see many times that even 24 hours after snow stopped, they don’t clear the road. Truckers also trying to inform Icbc with proof that contractors are inviting collision knowingly. Hopefully somebody hear us.

    • Hello Sukhwant and thank you for your comments. We shared your concerns with the local area manager and can assure you that our maintenance contractor on the Coquihalla does have a “deal” with towing companies. Historically, during heavy snowfall events (15cm or greater in a 12 hour period), unprepared truckers spin out on the hill and block traffic. The absolute last thing our maintenance contractor wants is all three lanes blocked NB on the Snowshed Hill because of unprepared truckers. To combat this, they ensure tow trucks are on standby so that the hill can be cleared so they can continue with their maintenance. This is a direct response to trying to meet their contracted responsibilities.

      During these times when the forecasted snowfall is in excess of 15cms in 12 hrs we have enhanced winter maintenance. Ministry staff will be onsite monitoring performance against the contract specifications. Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement (CVSE) will also be onsite, as well commercial vehicle brake check runners, to enforce chain up regulations and prevent further closures.

      Tow companies park on all BC highways in anticipation that an accident may occur all year long. This is how our contractors ensure trucks are cleared quickly so that they can keep traffic moving, continue to provide maintenance operations and perform to their contracted specifications. We hope that this helps answer your questions.

  4. The maintenance of our highways is a joke!!! All day my spouse has been stranded in Hope trying to get home to Kamloops!!😕 highway#1 has been closed all afternoon with NO sign of opening anytime soon…And #5 has been closed most of the day and night as well??😯if the only highways were properly maintained they wouldn’t both be closed leaving 100’s cold and stranded!!Hire more maintenance staff!!!!

    • Hi Susan,

      Thank you for connecting with us here to share your concern. Last Wednesday, the Coquihalla highway received upwards of 70-80cm of snowfall, and VSA (our maintenance contractor for BC Highway 5) was fully deployed and managed to keep the roads in good winter driving conditions. Unfortunately, the storm was immediately followed by freezing rain on compact snow and rapidly dropping temperatures causing very icy road conditions and spun out trucks and vehicles. Spun out trucks prevented VSA’s crews from being able to access, cycle and maintain the highway and the decision was made to close the highway until it could be brought back up to a safe travelling standard. Highway 1 was closed temporarily to conduct controlled avalanche work along the corridor. We do not take highway closures lightly, but the safety of the travelling public is our number one concern. Here’s a link to an article by the CBC discussing the recent closures which you might find interesting:

      Hope that this helps.