British Columbia Highway 5

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Highway 5 shield

Highway 5
Southern Yellowhead Highway
Coquihalla Highway
Route information
Length: 524 km (326 mi)
Existed: 1941 – present
Major junctions
South end: BC 3 near Hope
  BC 5A / BC 8 / BC 97C in Merritt
BC 1 / BC 97 in Kamloops
BC 5A in Kamloops
BC 24 in Little Fort
North end: BC 16 near Tête Jaune Cache
Major cities: Hope
Highway system

British Columbia provincial highways

BC 4 BC 5A

Highway 5 is a 524 km (326 mi) north-south route in southern British Columbia, Canada. Highway 5 connects the southern Trans-Canada route (Highway 1) with the northern Yellowhead route (Highway 16), providing the shortest land connection between Vancouver and Edmonton. A portion of Highway 5 south of Kamloops is also known as the Coquihalla Highway; the northern portion is known as the Southern Yellowhead Highway. The Coquihalla section was a toll road until 2008.

A plaque commemorating the opening of the Coquihalla Highway in Hope, British Columbia.

The current Highway 5 is not the first highway in B.C. to have this designation. From 1941 to 1953, the section of present-day Highway 97 and Highway 97A, between Kaleden, just north of Osoyoos, and Salmon Arm, was formerly Highway 5. In 1953, the '5' designation was moved to designate Highway 5A, south of Kamloops, to north of Kamloops. In 1986, Highway 5 was re-routed between Hope and Merritt. The re-routed section of highway between Merritt and Kamloops was completed in 1987. The total cost for the highway between Hope and Merritt was approximately $848 million.[1]

South of Kamloops, Highway 5 is known as the Coquihalla Highway (colloquially "the Coq"; pronounced "coke"), 186 km (116 mi) of freeway, varying between four and six lanes with a posted speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph). The Coquihalla approximately traces through the Cascade Mountains the route of the former Kettle Valley Railway, which existed between 1912 and 1958. It is so-named because near Hope, it generally follows the Coquihalla River, for about 60 km (37 mi), and uses the Coquihalla Pass.

In 2003, Premier Gordon Campbell announced the Liberal government would turn over toll revenue to a private operator, along with responsibility for operation, and maintenance of "the Coq". In response to strong opposition from the public, and numerous businesses, in the Interior of British Columbia, the provincial government shelved the move three months later.

On September 26, 2008, the provincial government permanently lifted the Coquihalla tolls, effective 1:00 pm that day.[1][2] Subsequently, the toll station and signs were dismantled.[3]

Effective July 2, 2014, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure increased the speed limit of Coquihalla Highway from 110 km/h (68 mph) to 120 km/h (75 mph) after conducting engineering assessment and province-wide speed review.[4]

Although the Yellowhead Highway system is considered part of the Trans-Canada Highway network, the Highway 5 segment is not marked as such. Highway 5 is, however, designated as a core route of Canada's National Highway System.

Route details[edit]

Great Bear snow shed, approaching from the north
Yellowhead Highway 5, southbound

Highway 5 begins south at the junction with Highway 3 at uninhabited "Othello", 7 km (4.3 mi) east of Hope (named after a nearby siding on the Kettle Valley Railway, which used many Shakespearean names). Exit numbers on the Coquihalla are a continuation of those on Highway 1 west of Hope. The speed limit on the Coquihalla Highway south of Merritt is 120 km/h (75 mph). 35 km (22 mi) north of Othello, after passing through five interchanges, Highway 5 reaches the landmark Great Bear snow shed. The location of the former toll booth is 13 km (8.1 mi) north of the snow shed, passing through another interchange and the 1,244 m (4,081 ft) Coquihalla Pass. Highway 5 was the only highway in British Columbia to have tolls; a typical passenger vehicle toll was C$10. Now free to drive, at the Coquihalla Lakes junction, the highway crosses from the Fraser Valley Regional District into the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. 61 km (38 mi) and five interchanges north of the former toll plaza, the Coquihalla enters the city of Merritt. There it joins Highway 5A and Highway 97C.

This diagram illustrates the wrong-way concurrency between Highways 5 and 97 through Kamloops. Example of road sign

Highway 5 travels 4 km (2.5 mi) through the eastern area of Merritt before reaching its northern junction with Highway 5A. From there, the Coquihalla has three more interchanges and one mountain pass – the Surrey Lake Summit – in the 72 km (45 mi) between Merritt and its end at a junction with Highways 1 and 97. Highway 5 continues east for 7 km (4.3 mi) concurrently with Highways 1 and 97, through Kamloops. This stretch of road, which carries 97 South and 5 North on the same lanes (and vice versa), is the only wrong-way concurrency in British Columbia.

After separating from Highways 1 and 97, Highway 5 proceeds north for approximately 19 km (12 mi), temporarily leaving Kamloops city limits as a four-lane highway, before re-entering the city at the Rayleigh community, then continuing north. It becomes a two-lane highway at Heffley Creek and the exit to Sun Peaks resorts, both of which indicate the final northern boundary of Kamloops.

Highway 5 follows the North Thompson River north from Heffley Creek for approximately 54 km (34 mi), along a parallel course with a branch of the Canadian National Railway, passing through Barriere, to a junction with Highway 24 at Little Fort. 30 km (19 mi) north of Little Fort, while continuing to follow the North Thompson and the CN Railway, Highway 5 then reaches the community of Clearwater. It proceeds northeast for another 107 km (66 mi), passing Vavenby and Avola en route, to the community of Blue River; then 109 km (68 mi) further north through the Columbia Mountains, it crosses into the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, passing by the community of Valemount to its northern terminus at Tête Jaune Cache, where it meets Highway 16.

Exit list[edit]

From south to north, the following intersections are observed along Highway 5:[5]

Regional district Location km mi Exit Destinations Notes
Freeway and exit numbers handed off from Highway 1 from Vancouver (Trans-Canada Highway)
Fraser Valley Hope 170 BC 1 east (Trans-Canada Highway) – Lytton, Cache Creek Continuation beyond exit 177
171 3rd Avenue Westbound exit only
173 Old Hope-Princeton Way No westbound entrance
Othello 0.0 0.0 177 BC 3 east (Crowsnest Highway) – Princeton, Penticton, Osoyoos
Nicolum River Bridge
Coquihalla River Bridge
6.2 3.9 183 Othello Road, Kawkawa Lake
  15.2 9.4 192 Sowaqua Creek Road
  19.0 11.8 195 Carolin Mines Road
  Ladner Creek Bridge
  23.4 14.5 200 Shylock Road Southbound exit and northbound entrance
  24.4 15.2 202 Portia No southbound exit
  Great Bear Snowshed
  38.4 23.9 217 Zopkios rest area
  44.2 27.5 221 Falls Lake Road
  Coquihalla Summit (1244 m)
  Dry Gulch Bridge
Thompson-Nicola   50.3 31.3 228 Coquihalla Lakes Road, Britton Creek Rest Area
  54.7 34.0 231 Mine Creek Road (U-turn) Southbound exit and northbound entrance
  61.2 38.0 238 Juliet Creek Road, Murray Lake Road, Coldwater River Provincial Park
  Larson Creek Bridge
  72.4 45.0 250 Larson Hill, Fig Lake Road, Brodie Siding Road
Kingsvale 79.2 49.2 256 Coldwater Road
  99.3 61.7 276 Comstock Road
Merritt 286 BC 5A north / BC 8 west / BC 97C north (Nicola Avenue) – Spences Bridge, Logan Lake
BC 5A south / BC 97C east (Okanagan Connector) – Princeton, Kelowna
Bridge over Nicola River
290 BC 5A north (Voght Street) – Quilchena, Kamloops
  315 Helmer Road
  Surrey Lake Summit (1,444 m (4,738 ft))
Lac Le Jeune 336 BC 97D south (Meadow Creek Road) / Lac Le Jeune Road – Logan Lake
  355 Inks Lake Road
Kamloops 362 BC 1 west (Trans-Canada Highway) / BC 97 north – Cache Creek, Lytton, Vancouver, Prince George
South end of Hwy 1/Hwy 97 overlap
366 Copperhead Drive, Lac le Jeune Road
367 Pacific Way
368 BC 5A south (Hillside Avenue) – Merritt
369 Columbia Street W, Notre Dame Drive, Kamloops City Centre Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
370 Notre Dame Drive, Summit Drive, Kamloops City Centre Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
374 BC 1 east (Trans-Canada Highway) / BC 97 south – Vernon, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Golden, Banff, Calgary Highway 5 exits freeway, Hwy 1 continues freeway and exit numbers
North end of Hwy 1/Hwy 97 overlap
  Yellowhead Bridge over South Thompson River
Highway 5 continues toward Clearwater, Valemount as 2/4 lane highway
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


Kw'ikw'iya:la (Coquihalla) in the Halq'emeylem language of the Stó:lō, is a place name meaning "stingy container". It refers specifically to a fishing rock near the mouth of what is now known as the Coquihalla River. This rock is a good platform for spearing salmon. According to Stó:lō oral history, the skw'exweq (water babies, underwater people) who inhabit a pool close by the rock, would swim out and pull the salmon off the spears, allowing only certain fisherman to catch the salmon.[6]

The route is also often referred to simply as "The Coke."

Popular culture[edit]



Route map: Bing / Google