Alta. to lift some spring load limits for grain

The Alberta government plans to allow grain trucks to run at 100 per cent of their axle weights on certain provincial highways otherwise restricted during the spring thaw period.

The provincial government on Friday announced it will issue permits “at no cost” for grain trucks to travel at fully-loaded weights on roads otherwise subject to spring load limits, “as long as these roads are not damaged in the process.”

The province’s one-time exemption for grain trucks will run from April 1 to June 30 this year, in view of this winter’s grain rail freight backlog and last fall’s record Prairie harvest, which have left grain elevators near capacity and many farmers with little or no on-farm storage.

Alberta’s spring road restrictions typically start each spring in the province’s south and move north as temperatures rise. Bans are lifted when Alberta Transportation staff determine provincial roads are stable enough to handle regular vehicle weights, the province said.

Farmers and grain truckers can get permit request forms by calling the transportation department’s central permit office toll-free at 1-800-662-7138. The office is open 6 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays.

The permit form requires information on the trip’s origin, destination, route, trucks covered, weights requested, number of loads required and contact information.

The province will grant the road ban exemption “if the route can withstand your proposed traffic without significant damage according to engineers and regional maintenance staff,” the department said.

Permits to haul grain on municipal roads must still be issued by the local municipalities in question, the province said.

The provincial transportation department said it will monitor road conditions during the exemption period and “suggest alternate travel routes if necessary to keep motorists safe and protect highway infrastructure.”

Alberta’s move follows similar exemptions set up earlier this week for grain trucks on provincial roads in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“We’re doing all we can to support Alberta farmers and keep grain moving, even on banned roads when possible,” Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale said in the province’s release. “Relaxing road ban limits at a time when our farmers need some flexibility is the right thing to do.” — Network

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