WINNIPEG, Man. — Manitoba has proposed changes to its Highway Traffic Act, which could extend winter weight periods and shorten detour lengths in the event of flooding.
Proposed amendments would take a weather-based approach to determining when spring weight restrictions go into effect, allowing commercial vehicles to haul heavier payloads for a longer period of time when weather permits.
Currently, allowable vehicle weights are set by Cabinet regulation. Amending the regs can be time-consuming, which is why changes are not made to address short-term situations. The proposed changes would allow the minister to temporarily increase weights and classifications on highways within a short timeframe.
Under the proposed amendment, trucks would be able to remain at higher weight thresholds for as long as weather allows.
In addition, the changes would allow the province to act faster when a road or bridge is damaged by flooding, to more quickly provide access to temporary alternative routes. This could shorten detour lengths by hundreds of kilometres, the province claims.
“These proposed amendments will help drive rural economic growth by allowing farm and commercial trucks to carry heavier loads on our highway system sooner,” said Transport Minister Steve Ashton. “They will also offer greater flexibility when natural disasters damage part of that critical system.”
The trucking industry welcomed the changes.
“This proposed amendment will allow government to react more quickly to industry needs; as such, we view this as a positive move,” said Norm Blagden, president of the Manitoba Trucking Association.