Coquihalla Highway closure: Overnight avalanche control with explosives planned after heavy snowfall
Highway 5, southbound at Zopkios Rest Area, near the Coquihalla Summit, looking northeast on Jan. 5, 2020. (Drive BC)
VANCOUVER -- A section of the Coquihalla Highway will be closed overnight Tuesday as crews complete proactive avalanche control.
B.C.'s transportation ministry issued a notice Tuesday afternoon saying the all lanes in both directions of Highway 5, specifically between Hope and Merritt, will be closed temporarily. The shutdown will last from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 4 a.m. Wednesday.
"The avalanche control, using explosives, is due to heavy snowfall over the last several weeks," the transportation ministry's notice says.
"This will remove any weak layers of snow and ice and reduce the overall depth of the snowpack, providing continued safe travel for people using the Coquihalla."
The summit has gotten 70 centimetres of snow since Dec. 31 and more snow is expected before the end of the week, the ministry says.
"Based on records dating back to 1986 when the highway opened, the current accumulations in the area are the third-deepest snowpack for this time of year," the ministry's statement says.
"The current total accumulation to date is over 500 centimetres, which is 150 per cent of the average snowfall for this time of the year."
During the closure, drivers should plan to take an alternate route, like through Highway 1 or Highway 3.