Highway 5A bad route for big rigs

Kamloops Daily News
October 10, 2012 01:00 AM

The blackened pavement and scorched grass left by a fiery, deadly crash on Highway 5A Friday are more than just tragic remnants of a bad accident. They are shameful reminders of our inability or unwillingness to confront a plainly apparent truth - Highway 5A and big rigs do not mix.

The crash killed two drivers; two working men driving different loads in different directions. They died largely because ever-bigger trucks continue to be allowed to drive a winding narrow route not built for their kind or number.

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger told The Daily News Monday he was "sickened" by the crash. We should all be sickened. This crash is not the first - there have been several serious crashes involving big rigs on 5A over the years - and it likely won't be the last, unless we take steps to prevent them.

Krueger said he will one more time go to B.C.'s Transportation Minister and seek to have the route closed to commercial traffic. We hope this time the government listens.

The issue of big rigs on Highway 5A is not new. Krueger and residents along the stretch sought a similar closure years ago, to no avail.

The government chose not to ban trucks on the route after the trucking industry squawked. Bureaucrats cited, along with other things, concerns about creating a patchwork of road legislation across B.C. Truckers like Highway 5A's flat route because the parallel Coquihalla Highway takes longer and requires more fuel. In an industry in which time and fuel are money, the motivation to oppose such a closure is apparent.

That should not stop us from doing what needs to be done, what is right.

Years ago a committee examined Highway 5A's risks. Many "improvements" were made, including the installation of flashing speed signs and special highway paint on the road surface on high-risk corners - so-called traffic-calming paint. Yet, the carnage continues.

Not all the crashes have been deadly, of course, but each one represents the potential to be so. It is through blind luck that no one dies when a tractor-trailer loses control and flips at near-highway speeds.

While crashes might be, to some extent, a fact of life on our highways, when the numbers or severity of them rise too high, we are right to expect action, like traffic restrictions.

It's time for such action on Highway 5A. We need no more reminders burned into the asphalt. And we certainly don't need more traffic calming-paint, flashing signs or education campaigns.

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