February 15, 2013 - 10:04 AM
By Jennifer Stahn
Concern over commercial truck traffic using Hwy 5A to bypass the portion of the Coquihalla Highway between Kamloops and Merritt has come to the forefront again after a flatbed trailer became disengaged along the winding highway earlier this week.
It's an incident that area residents say could have resulted in tragedy, but luckily did not.
A 20-minute drive along the highway takes you a little south of Knutsford. Today alone nearly a dozen trucks were seen in that 10-km stretch, some carrying lumber products, others carrying bales and two carrying large equipment, but almost all of them flatbed trailers from local companies.
Many long distance drivers prefer the Coquihalla though. Several drivers at a local truck stop said today they do not use Highway 5A at all, and they did not know of many truckers who did. But whether they use it or not may no longer be up to them if the provincial government finally puts a ban in place, as the latest petition is asking them to do.
A group of concerned citizens have been gathering signatures in Kamloops, Merritt and along the highway corridor between the two cities for a petition that MLA Kevin Krueger is to present to the legislature early next month.
The petition is specifically asking “to restrict non-resident commercial truck traffic along Hwy 5A corridor between Kamloops and Merritt.” The petition states that only locally registered industrial vehicles, such as those used in the logging and farming industries, should be allowed forcing other commercial traffic to utilize the Coquihalla, which has designated Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement inspection stations, would help keep the roads safer and protect environmentally sensitive areas like Nicola Lake and Stump Lake.
Those leading the petition believe Highway 5A is too narrow and winding for continuous use by heavy trucks and the noise pollution caused by the use of j-brakes affects those in the Knutsford, Sahali and Aberdeen areas.
Krueger's attempts to have the provincial government ban heavy truck traffic on Hwy 5A have been going on for a number of years and less than two years ago he told caucus he visited with residents along the highway where houses shook every other minute because of passing trucks and other properties were a regular landing ground for out of control trucks. Krueger also told them some truckers using the route tend to speed and take unnecessary risks, making the route even more dangerous.
A mailer will also be going out next week to 5,000 homes within a three-kilometre range of Hugh Allan Drive. People are reminded that the only restriction to signing the petition is that you must be a BC citizen, there is no age restriction. More information can be found on the Safety on Highway 5A Facebook page.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013