BC Day long weekend travel: Expect delays on Coquihalla

It’s been eight months since an atmospheric river washed away sections of the Coquihalla Highway connecting Metro Vancouver to the BC Interior.

While the vital route reopened sooner than expected, portions of the highway are still single lane each way while repairs are being completed.

Katie Ward with the BC Ministry of Transportation said that continued work will cause significant delays for long weekend road trippers.

“Travellers should definitely expect some lane reductions in several places along the corridor. With the long weekend, we are expecting higher than average traffic volumes and delays for travel times throughout the corridor,” said Ward.

The busiest times will be Friday afternoon and between noon and 6 pm on Monday, when Ward warns delays could reach two hours.

With high temperatures continuing through the long weekend, Ward is urging motorists to make sure their vehicles are well maintained to prevent break downs caused by overheating.

“Both our maintenance contractor and ministry staff will be out throughout the weekend looking out for any of those folks that maybe pulled over by the side of the road in a tough spot,” said Ward.

Overheating is more common on highways with steep inclines, like the Coquihalla. Josh Smythe, an automotive specialist with BCAA, said drivers should pay close attention to their vehicle’s engine temperature gauge.

“If it’s getting anywhere close to the red or the high point, which is normally marked, pull over. Let it cool off,” said Smythe.

If drivers do pull over and pop the hood, he said they shouldn’t touch their engine cooling system, which will be pressurized and incredibly hot.

“It is going to scald you very rapidly,” he added.

Instead, he suggests leaving the engine off but the keys in the ignition to keep the fan running, until the car cools down enough to attempt driving again.

If the vehicle has a high temperature warning, drivers should pull over if that light comes on, and not wait for the gauge to get even higher.

He said a well-maintained car should be fine in extreme heat, but if it has been neglected and the coolant system hasn’t been checked, drivers could run into problems on long weekend road trips.

“If you feel, hear or see something different, in extreme weather it can change rapidly, so address it sooner than later,” said Smythe.