The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says it has no plans to ban semi-trucks from travelling Highway 5A.
In a statement — following a decision last week by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to support a request for a prohibition of non-local commercial truck traffic on the highway between Kamloops and Merritt — the ministry told KTW the route remains a “safe” highway for both commercial and passenger traffic.
The ministry added it does not have plans to turn Highway 5A into a scenic route.
“Commercial vehicles use Highway 5A for a number of reasons: local deliveries, economic opportunities (forestry, agriculture), fuel reductions, preferable weather,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said it has spent $13.5 million in safety and reliability improvements on the highway since 2004 and that serious collisions have declined as a result.
In 2004, there were 36 reported collisions along the route, the ministry said, compared to an average of 13 annual collisions per year between 2011 and 2019, with five on average involving commercial vehicles.
In addition, the ministry said the speed limit was reviewed in 2014 and determined to be appropriate. Provincial Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement officers “frequently” patrol the route, the ministry said, and find commercial vehicles generally comply with posted speed limits.
On April 22, the TNRD board voted to support the request from Stump Lake Ranch for the ban. TNRD Area P (Rivers and the Peaks) director Mel Rothenburger said commercial truck traffic should be rerouted to nearby Coquihalla Highway, which is Highway 5.
Five TNRD board directors were opposed to the ban. Merritt Mayor Linda Brown said highways are not meant to be private roads and that they are paid for by the public with tax dollars. The BC Trucking Association also opposed the ban, citing need for data-based decisions when it comes to route revisions and considerations, such as poor weather and spinoff traffic congestion. The ministry said it will continue to engage with the TNRD and local community to look for ways to mitigate concerns.