Yesterday I received a petition in the mail for me to sign that advocates a ban on commercial traffic on highway 5A. The location of Highway 5A versus Highway 5 is fraught with unintended consequences, both for those living in the Nicola Valley along the Merritt to Kamloops corridor, and for the provincial government.
In the late 1970’s / early 80’s the government committed to construction of the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Kamloops. The intended route from Merritt to Kamloops was similar to the current 5A location. The advantage of this route compared to alternatives is obvious to the average person, let alone highway planners and engineers. However, residents and land owners objected to this route so strongly that instead the government caved in and built the highway over a large hill.
The final Merritt to Kamloops location of the Coquihalla, compared to the original planned location
1. Commits BC tax payers to significant additional road maintenance costs compared to the original route planned.
2. Typically offers users (you and I) more severe winter driving conditions.
3. Costs users higher per kilometer vehicle costs (fuel, brakes, and transmissions).
The disadvantages of two and three above are very significant. In fact they are so significant that the natural outcome is some drivers, both private (you and I) and commercial, will opt for the slower less engineered alternative (highway 5A).
Now today, we have people who objected to a well-engineered highway in the right location objecting to commercial use of a less well engineered highway that is in the right location. Considering the ongoing waste generated by the current location of the Coquihalla Highway (one and three above), I am not only unsympathetic to this position, I am offended by it.
Now today, to my disbelief, we have the Liberal MLA for the Kamloops-South Thompson electoral district, Kevin Kruger, supporting a restriction of commercial use on Highway 5A. There seems to be a disconnect between this local representative, and the Liberal Party that proclaims to be business friendly, is supposedly concerned with vehicle emissions. A party that says they support efficiency and reduction of red tape.