EDITORIAL – A quick answer to Coquihalla problems: bring back tolls

(Image: Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE TERRIBLE multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla last weekend — thank goodness there were no fatalities — has everyone talking again about the dangers of driving that highway in winter conditions.

Everybody has ideas about what can be done to reduce the accident rate (and the death toll) on the Coq.

There’s the usual stuff — make sure you have the proper winter tires, carry chains, drive slowly and carefully, reduce speed limits.

And there are always the intrepid highway maintenance contractors to point the finger at when all else fails.

But let’s face it. The Coquihalla Highway is a summer highway. The best way to deal with it in winter is simply not to drive it.

But buses and transport trucks must take the shortest route, and many regular folks just don’t want to spend an extra couple of hours going the long way.

So, there doesn’t seem to be an answer.

Or maybe there is.

It’s been 10 years since the tolls were removed from the Coquihalla. When then-premier Gordon Campbell removed them in 2008, it was hailed as a great day for B.C.

The Interior regarded the tolls as a tax on people and commerce coming inland from the Interior. But maybe those tolls are the answer to the perennial wreckage and lost lives on the Coq.

At the time they were removed, they had reached $57 million annually. (That’s $67 million in today’s dollars.)

Think what that could do for winter maintenance on the Coquihalla.

We don’t know yet what all the causes were of last Sunday’s pileup, but we do know winter conditions were a factor. The Coquihalla in winter will get you if it can.

Putting the toll booths back in would not only provide for a dramatic increase in winter maintenance and emergency response, but it would force drivers to stop and re-set their brains before tackling the other half of the trip.

If paying $10 per trip made you feel safer on the Coquihalla, wouldn’t you?

Something to think about.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at


About Mel Rothenburger (5441 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – A quick answer to Coquihalla problems: bring back tolls

  1. Jerome Farrell // March 1, 2018 at 6:59 PM // Reply

    Speed limit for trucks
    Mandatory winter tires for trucks
    Big fines for not chaining up
    And the toll again is a good idea

  2. Like many others, I’ve driven the Coq for 28 years, often in winter, and often in adverse conditions, including deep snow (ahead of the plows), fog, blowing snow, high winds, driving rain, ice, compact snow, and of course, all in the dark of a winter afternoon or evening. All without incident. I suggest that there are many truckers who don’t bother with chains (almost unheard of 20+ years ago), more than a few pickup trucks from “somewhere else” moving at very high speed and a smattering of Lower Mainlanders who have never owned snow tires and are unwilling to invest in them for this “one return trip.”
    More policing would be a better option than going back to tolls, which could be one of the worst ideas put forth. Tolls would certainly force drivers to the terrible two-lane alternatives B.C. is well known for.

  3. People don’t generally drive in winter conditions for the fun of it: they drive because they have a need to get somewhere. Adding tolls will only (1) extract revenue from already over-taxed citizens, or (2) divert traffic to less-safe alternatives. Better to have crashes on divided modern highways than on windy two-lane highways with fewer barriers and worse conditions. Highway 1 and Highway 3 are not better alternatives.

  4. I would support a toll on every major highway, I would support photo radar, I would support enhanced enforcement, I would support a review of current maintenance practices, I would support a large increase in ICBC premiums for the ones causing accidents.

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