COQUIHALLA, B.C. — The Province of B.C has completed a capacity increase at the Box Canyon chain-up area along the Coquihalla highway.
Located 32 kilometres north of Hope, the Box Canyon expansion includes new deceleration and acceleration lanes to make entering and exiting the highway safer for truck drivers.
The scope of work included a new chain-up area that is about 25,550 square metres and can fit 70 commercial vehicles at that same time. This is more than five times the previous capacity of 14 vehicles in just 1,180 square metres of space.
Also involved in this project is a new chain-off area at the Coquihalla summit, along with the extension of a third southbound lane exiting the Great Bear Snow Shed.
The summit had a total snowfall of 830 centimetres from Oct. 1, 2017 to the end of February 2018, the release reads, which was 114 per cent higher than the 10-year average.
The summit also sees an average of 11,800 vehicles daily, and 29 per cent of those are transport trucks.
From Oct. 1 to March 31 each year, truck drivers using British Columbia’s mountain passes are required to use chains.
Doug Routely, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, said in a statement this project will be a “game-changer” for truck drivers travelling north on Highway 5, who previously had to either wait in the right lane to get into Box Canyon or pull over and chain up on the shoulder during winter months.
“This massive expansion at the existing chain-up, with a new chain-off area at the Coquihalla summit, gives truck drivers safe locations and more room off the highway to deal with chains, and keeps other traffic moving,” he said.
According to the release, the $17.6-million project is cost-shared, with the Government of Canada contributing approximately $7.3 million through the Building Canada Fund and the province providing the remaining $10.3 million.