Keeping people and wildlife safe on the Coquihalla

Construction

Construction crews will start work next week on a $1.2-million project to build nearly 25 kilometres of new fencing along the Coquihalla Highway, south of Merritt, that will help keep travellers and wildlife safe.

“Our government is committed to a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system, as well as supporting wildlife in their natural ecosystems,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “I am pleased to see this addition to our wildlife-exclusion system, reducing wildlife-related accidents to protect people and wildlife from harm.”

On average, there are approximately 160 wildlife-related vehicle accidents each year on Highway 5, 75% of which are with deer. Wildlife-exclusion fencing is 1.2 metres (four feet) higher than livestock fencing, blocking larger animals, such as deer, moose and elk from provincial highways. The exclusion fencing works by redirecting the animals to existing wildlife underpasses, allowing for the safe movement of animal populations under the highway.

The fencing will replace current livestock fencing along both sides of Highway 5, starting at Comstock Road and running 12 kilometres southbound until it connects with existing wildlife-exclusion fencing.

“The City of Merritt is pleased the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is creating new wildlife-exclusion fencing along Highway 5 south of Merritt,” said Linda A. Brown, mayor, City of Merritt. “This is an importation corridor not only for our community but for the entire province. I, along with my fellow council members, am proud to have this additional protection for both travellers and our native animal population in the Nicola Valley. This fencing will ensure the safe movement of animals. It comes at a key time with higher numbers of guests visiting our beautiful region each year.”

The project adds to the nearly 180 kilometres of wildlife-exclusion fencing already in place along Highway 5.

“Every year in B.C., wildlife-vehicle collisions cost society millions of dollars and can have major impacts on wildlife populations,” said Candace Batycki, program director (B.C. and Yukon), Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “Wildlife-exclusion fencing combined with road crossing infrastructure is a proven solution for people and wildlife, and we commend the ministry on expanding its exclusion-fencing system.”

Highway 5 begins east of Hope and ends in northern B.C. at Highway 16 north of Valemount, and includes the Coquihalla Highway, between Hope and Kamloops. Highway 5 is an essential transportation corridor, linking the southern Interior and the North.

While the fence installation is not expected to cause any travel delays, drivers are reminded that for the most up-to-date information, visit: www.DriveBC.ca

The ministry is working closely with the contractor, Progressive Fence Installations of Langley, and WorkSafeBC to ensure health and safety are maintained for all workers on site.

B.C.’s provincial health officer has directed construction employers to take all necessary precautions to minimize the risks of COVID-19 transmission and illness to themselves and their employees. Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, sneezing or coughing, will be directed to self-isolate at home for at least 10 days.