An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE COQUIHALLA HIGHWAY is open for non-commercial traffic again.
While officials caution that the drive between Merritt and Hope will take considerably longer than usual, it returns a big dose of normalcy to our lives.
Truckers and non-truckers can resume their rivalry but now they’ll have something in common.
In normal times, the two engage in an epic battle out on the asphalt.
To the rest of us, truckers act as though they own the road, impatiently tail-gating sedans and SUVs, passing them in dicey situations. In winter, they frequently end up in sometimes fatal multi-vehicle collisions. In summer, photos of tipped-over rigs aren’t out of the ordinary.
They don’t call it the Highway through Hell for nothing.
On the other hand, truckers have legitimate grievances against everyday drivers, too. We follow too closely and think nothing of roaring past them on a hill or on a double line.
At the moment, though, their complaint is against the highway contractors who are supposed to keep roadways maintained throughout the four seasons. They say those roadways are dangerous right now — black ice, potholes and snow buildup put them at risk.
According to the West Coast Trucking Association, trying to figure out which of the 28 road maintenance contractors is responsible for a particular stretch of highway is pretty much impossible. Tell us about it — even when you know which one it is, have you ever tried to get hold of one?
Non-truckers know that the folks who drive the big rigs are essential to our well-being. When they aren’t on the road, we all suffer. Time we all got along.
Navigating the Coq, especially for the rest of the winter, will require an unusual degree of co-operation between truckers and non-truckers. The job would be much easier if the provincial government would step in and address the maintenance issue to back up its good work in getting the Coq open.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.