I shutter when I hear of another accident on the Coquihalla Highway due to winter conditions.
A bus crashed north of Merritt earlier this week and ended up in the ditch on its side. Fortunately nobody was killed but all 42 passengers were transported to the hospital in Kamloops where 21 required treatment. This could have been much more tragic!
There have been many fatalities on this highway due to winter conditions.
The Coquihalla is set in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountains. The ascent to the Coquihalla summit is very steep, especially from the south. The highway is subjected to micro climates along the way. What starts as powdery snow, quickly turns wet and slushy as you head south. The Coquihalla has some of the highest snow packs in the province!
There has been many complaints about the contractors who maintain the Coquihalla during the winter but I don't think it's their fault. The fault lands clearly on Mother Natures' shoulders.
In California/Nevada they close some highways that cross the Sierra Nevada mountains. An example is the Sonora Pass, which is extremely steep on both sides and is closed between November and May because of high snow accumulations.
In my opinion the Coqui-halla Highway is not safe for winter travel. Perhaps our government should consider closing the 'Coke' during the winter, like they do in California. There are alternate routes available through the Fraser Canyon and the Hope/Princeton highways. The savings would be huge and the carnage would end.
Rob Kingdon Sardis