The minister of transportation has agreed to look into barring big rigs from Highway 5A between Kamloops and Merritt in the wake of a gruesome double fatality on Friday, according to Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger.
Krueger says he's sickened by the deaths of two transport truck drivers who collided head-on, and it's spurred him to once again push for a ban on non-local commercial haulers along what he says is essentially a "two-lane country road."
"This is so horrifying to me the way that these truckers died and really so predictable," he said.
Two transport truck drivers hauling concrete and logs, whose names will be released today, were killed in a fiery crash that happened at around 7 p.m. on the highway near the Stump Lake rest stop.
The truck and trailers collided essentially head-on, according to B.C. Coroners Service spokeswoman Barb McLintock.
The vehicles burst into flames and while the body of one driver was pulled from the wreckage Friday night, the heat from a resulting grass fire kept rescue crews from reaching the second body until Saturday.
The regional fire centre says the blaze engulfed about 20 hectares.
The highway remained closed to all but emergency traffic until mid-day Saturday.
Krueger has for years appealed to the Ministry of Transportation to limit Highway 5A transport truck traffic to locals only after years of complaints that truckers speed and pass in unsafe sections.
Truck drivers prefer the flat road to the steep Coquihalla because it saves money on fuel. But the level geography also allows drivers to speed, which they frequently do, according to Krueger.
"Of course, government tries desperately to make sure things like this don't happen," he said. "Traffic safety is always the highest priority of our road builders and the minister of transportation."
But past attempts to ban trucks were stymied over fears it would lead other regions to demand the same considerations, and the province doesn't want B.C. turned into a patchwork of legal and illegal transport corridors, said Krueger.
After Friday's crash, Krueger felt compelled to renew his plea.
"When this happened I contacted (Transportation Minister) Mary Polak about it and said, ''I'd like you to have another look at this file,' " he said. "We all knew that something like this would happen one day and we've been afraid it's going to happen to a school bus, so she is having another look at it."
The ministry has adopted numerous measures to try to stop speeding and dangerous driving along the stretch of road, according to the ministry's Stacey McGaghey Jones.
As part of an action plan, a multi-agency team was pulled together that included representatives from the RCMP, B.C. Trucking Association, WorkSafeBC, Trucking Safety Council of B.C. and ICBC.
Since 2007, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) has increased its presence to about five days a week as well as enforcement.
Permanent speed reader boards, new signage, including oversize signs on curves, high-visibility reflectors and rumble strips have been installed.
The ministry added calming paint on the Trapp Lake curves.
And previous to that, the ministry set up safety improvements including extending the brake check area, installing a guardrail and improving signage.
Since 2007, the crash rate has been below the provincial average.