British Columbia Highway 5
|Southern Yellowhead Highway
|Length:||543.3 km (337.6 mi)
Coquihalla Highway: 185.6 km (115.3 mi)
|Existed:||1941 – present|
|South end:||Hwy 1 (TCH) near Hope|
| Hwy 3 near Hope
Hwy 5A / Hwy 8 / Hwy 97C in Merritt
Hwy 1 (TCH) / Hwy 97 in Kamloops
Hwy 5A in Kamloops
Hwy 24 in Little Fort
|North end:||Hwy 16 (TCH) near Tête Jaune Cache|
|Districts:||Hope, Barriere, Clearwater|
|Major cities:||Merritt, Kamloops|
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 both Edmonton and Calgary. 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.
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.
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.
Effective July 2, 2014, the 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 an engineering assessment and province-wide speed review.
Signs along the Coquihalla Highway frequently warn drivers to be aware of sudden changes in weather. The highway is particularly dangerous during winter seasons, with extreme snowfall that can exceed more than 10 centimetres (3.9 in) per hour. While road maintenance strives to keep the roads as clear as possible, it is not unheard of for the highway to shut down, sometimes with travelers forced to stay overnight in their cars.
According to ICBC there were 32 fatal crashes between 2004 and 2013, and an estimated 400-500 accidents occur during the winter seasons. Global News listed the stretch between Merrit and Hope as one of the deadliest highways in BC. DriveBC keeps up to date with reports on Coquihalla Highway conditions, including live webcams in several locations.
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.
Highway 5 begins south at the junction with Crowsnest Highway (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 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.
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 12 km (7.5 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.
|Freeway and exit numbers continues along Hwy 1 (TCH) west (Trans-Canada Highway) – Vancouver|
|Fraser Valley||Hope||0.00||0.00||170||Hope||Hwy 1 (TCH) east (Water Avenue) – Cache Creek, Kamloops, Prince George||West end of BC 3 concurrency; no westbound exit|
|0.99||0.62||171||To Hwy 1 (TCH) east (3rd Avenue)||Westbound exit only|
|3.08||1.91||173||Thacker Creek||Old Hope-Princeton Way||No westbound entrance; entrance from Hwy 1 (TCH) west|
|||6.67||4.14||177||Othello||Hwy 3 east (Crowsnest Highway) – Princeton, Penticton, Osoyoos||East end of BC 3 concurrency|
|South end of Coquihalla Highway|
|13.00||8.08||183||Peers Creek||Othello Road – Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park|
|22.02||13.68||192||Jessica||Sowaqua Creek Road|
|25.77||16.01||195||Carolin||Carolin Mines Road|
|29.68||18.44||200||Shylock||Shylock Road (U-turn route only)||Southbound exit and northbound entrance.|
|31.19||19.38||202||Portia||Portia, Old Coquihalla Road||No southbound exit.|
|42.21||26.23||Great Bear Snowshed|
|45.53||28.29||217||Zopkios||Zopkios rest area|
|48.93||30.40||Coquihalla Pass – 1,244 m (4,081 ft)|
|51.35||31.91||221||Falls Lake||Falls Lake Road|
|↑ / ↓||||52.22||32.45||Dry Gulch Bridge|
|Thompson-Nicola||||58.11||36.11||228||Coquihalla Lakes||Coquihalla Lakes Road – Britton Creek Rest Area|
|61.09||37.96||231||Mine Creek||Mine Creek Road (U-turn route only)||Southbound exit and northbound entrance.|
|61.2||38.0||238||Juliet||Juliet Creek Road – Coldwater River Provincial Park|
|79.69||49.52||250||Larson Hill||Larson Hill|
|Merritt||115.99||72.07||286||Coldwater|| Hwy 5A south – Princeton
Hwy 8 west (Nicola Avenue) – Spences Bridge
Hwy 97C – Ashcroft, Logan Lake, Kelowna
|119.96||74.54||290||Nicola||Hwy 5A north / Voght Street – Quilchena, Kamloops|
|152.60||94.82||Surrey Lake Summit – 1,444 m (4,738 ft)|
|167.11||103.84||336||Walloper||Hwy 97D south / Lac Le Jeune Road – Logan Lake|
|185.48||115.25||355||Inks Lake||Inks Lake Road|
|Kamloops||192.22||119.44||362||Afton|| Hwy 1 (TCH) west – Cache Creek, Lytton, Vancouver
Hwy 97 north – Cache Creek, Prince George
To Hwy 99 south – Lillooet
|West end of BC 1 / BC 97 concurrency|
|North end of Coquihalla Highway|
|196.45||122.07||366||Copperhead||Copperhead Drive, Lac le Jeune Road|
|198.13||123.11||367||Pacific Way||Pacific Way|
|198.92||123.60||368||Aberdeen||Hwy 5A south / Hillside Way – Merritt|
|200.22||124.41||369||Sagebrush||Columbia Street – City Centre||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|200.80||124.77||370||Springhill||Summit Drive – City Centre||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|204.29||126.94||374||Yellowhead|| Hwy 1 (TCH) east – Salmon Arm, Banff, Calgary
Hwy 97 south – Vernon
|East end of BC 1 / BC 97 concurrency|
|South end of Southern Yellowhead Highway • Hwy 5 north exits freeway using Exit 374.|
|↑ / ↓||204.74||127.22||Yellowhead Bridge over South Thompson River|
|Kamloops No. 1||206.09||128.06||Shuswap Road||Signalized, at-grade intersection|
|208.16||129.34||Mount Paul Way||Signalized, at-grade intersection|
|210.04||130.51||Halston Avenue, Paul Lake Road – Kamloops Airport||Signalized, at-grade intersection|
|Kamloops||220.16||136.80||Puett Ranch Road|
|228.74||142.13||Old Highway 5, Tod Mountain Road – Sun Peaks|
|Barriere||267.64||166.30||Barriere Town Road, Lilley Road|
|270.06||167.81||Barriere North Thompson Bridge across North Thompson River|
|Little Fort||297.88||185.09||Hwy 24 west – Bridge Lake|
|||324.78||201.81||Clearwater River Bridge across Clearwater River|
|Clearwater||328.08||203.86||Clearwater Valley Road, Park Drive – Wells Gray Provincial Park||Roundabout|
|Avola||395.43||245.71||Avola North Thompson Bridge across North Thompson River|
|||423.68||263.26||Six Mile Bridge across North Thompson River|
|Blue River||434.43||269.94||Angus Horne Street, Shell Road|
|||474.40||294.78||Lempriere Bridge across North Thompson River|
|477.34||296.61||Moombeam Bridge across North Thompson River|
|478.91||297.58||Gosnell Bridge across North Thompson River|
|Fraser-Fort George||Valemount||523.94||325.56||5th Avenue, Pine Road||Signalized, at-grade intersection|
|Tête Jaune Cache||543.13||337.49||Tête Jaune Bridge across Fraser River|
|543.33||337.61||Tête Jaune||Hwy 16 (TCH) (Yellowhead Highway) – McBride, Prince George, Jasper, Edmonton|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
An archived article from the BC government website provides insight on the name Coquihalla: "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." The route is also often referred to simply as "The Coq" (pronounced "coke").
- BC5 is the main highway serviced in Discovery Channel show, Highway Thru Hell.
- The song "Hurtin' Albertan" by country singer Corb Lund makes reference to the Coquihalla in the lyric "...there's good weather up on the Coke."
Highway 5 passing through Thompson Plateau
Route map: Google
- Landmark Kilometre Inventory (PDF). British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Report). Cypher Consulting. July 2016. pp. 171–176, 202.
- Tolls taken off Coquihalla Archived 2015-10-17 at the Wayback Machine.
- Premier Announces End of Tolls
- Coquihalla Tollbooths Demolished
- Actions to improve safety on B.C.'s rural highways
- Super, Natural British Columbia Road Map & Parks Guide (Map) (2010-2011 ed). Davenport Maps Ltd. in co-operation with Tourism British Columbia. § H-10, § J-9, § J-10, § K-9, and § L-9.
- British Columbia Road Atlas (2007 ed.). Oshawa, ON: MapArt Publishing Corp. pp. 37, 46, 47, 57, 58, and 69. ISBN 1-55368-018-9.
- "Highway Exits & Landmarks - Coquihalla Highway 5 Starts (Yellowhead Route)". British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
- B.C. Ministry of Transportation Archived August 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. - Coquihalla Rates and Information