British Columbia Highway 5A
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (August 2009)|
|Auxiliary route of BC 5|
|Length:||182 km (113 mi)|
|Existed:||1986 – present|
|South end:||BC 3 in Princeton|
| BC 97C near Merritt
BC 5 / BC 8 in Merritt
|North end:||BC 1 / BC 5 / BC 97 in Kamloops|
Highway 5A, the Princeton-Kamloops Highway, is Highway 5's pre-1986 alignment south of Kamloops. Unlike the four-lane Highway 5 freeway, the 182 km (113 mi) long Highway 5A is only two lanes, with one four lane section.
Starting in Princeton, Highway 5A goes through 63 km (39 mi) of undeveloped land north to its junction with the Okanagan Connector Highway 97C at Aspen Grove. Past Aspen Grove, Highway 5A and Highway 97C travel in a shared designation northwest for 23 km (14 mi) in a four lane alignment. Once in Merritt, it crosses over Coquihalla Highway 5 and circles around Merritt for 7 km (4 mi) to its second crossover of Highway 5 in the north area of Merritt. Back to the east of Highway 5, Highway 5A goes north northeast for 89 km (55 mi), passing through the community of Quilchena en route, before terminating within Kamloops at its junction with Highways 5, 1 and 97 (which are overlapped at the point where 5A terminates).
Highway 5A is often considered to be a back country highway due to its low traffic volumes and features unusual to highways (e.g. cattleguards). Highway 5A between Aspen Grove and Merritt saw major upgrades in the late 1980s to prepare for the opening of the Okanagan Connector, but still remained two lanes for several years after. When the Okanagan Connector opened on October 1, 1990, the Hamilton Hill section was moved to a new four lane alignment north of the former route. Controversial plans once called for the Okanagan Connector to continue past Aspen Grove and Highway 5A to meet with Highway 5 south of Merritt. When it became apparent that this extension was unlikely, the highway was four lanes in stages from Aspen Grove to the Hamilton Hill Brake Check. Although upgraded for Okanagan Connector traffic, Highway 5A from Aspen Grove to Merritt is not considered to be a freeway, due to its numerous at-grade intersections and undivided nature. The speed limit on this stretch is 110 km/h, which is 10 km/h lower than the both the Okanagan Connector and the Coquihalla Highways.
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