Monday, September 29, 2008


PENTICTON – Tolls on the Coquihalla Highway will be removed immediately, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today during his annual address to the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

“The Coquihalla Highway opened British Columbia’s Interior like never before, generating economic opportunities and fostering the tremendous growth of communities,” said Premier Campbell. “Former Premier Bill Bennett had a vision for a highway that would see our province reach its full economic potential. It has succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations and has become the foundation for a transportation network that has opened up Canada’s Pacific Gateway to North America and the rest of the world. Today’s announcement marks the next milestone in that legacy.”

The highway officially opened on May 16, 1986, at the dawn of Expo 86. The first phase, from Hope to Merritt, opened on that day. Phase 2, from Merritt to Kamloops, was completed on Sept. 4, 1987 and the final phase, the Coquihalla Connector from Merritt to Kelowna, was completed Oct. 1, 1990. The highway significantly enhanced access to Interior communities resulting in population and economic growth.

The total capital cost of the three phases was $848 million. Current annual revenue collected by the tolls is approximately $57 million. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure anticipates that revenues collected from the tolls since its opening will have effectively offset those total capital costs by next month.

“Removing the tolls will mean literally hundreds of dollars annually in the pockets of British Columbians who regularly use the highway,” said Premier Campbell. “It will also mean thousands of dollars in annual saving for truckers who account for 20 per cent of highway traffic along the corridor but pay more than half of the total toll revenue.”

Approximately 3.4 million trips are completed across the Coquihalla Highway each year in British Columbia. In 2007, 2.7 million passenger vehicles and 700,000 commercial trucks crossed the corridor.

“In 2003, our government passed a policy clearly stating that any infrastructure financed by toll revenue must see the tolls removed upon recovery of construction costs,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Kevin Falcon. “This milestone marks an important time in our province’s history as we continue to open up our transportation networks with projects such as the $3-billion Gateway Project, the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Cariboo Connector four-laning, the William R. Bennett Bridge and port and airport expansions.”


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