CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. –A recent 52-hour closure of the Confederation Bridge has the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association asking for a major truck stop to be built nearby.
Winds gusting to 100 km/h stranded roughly 100 trucks and also stopped the Northumberland ferries earlier this winter.
Shane Esson, chair of the association, said what facilities exist at the bridge right now are not enough.
“There is a very small marshalling yard, but it will only hold a handful of trucks. Once it fills up trucks have to park on the highway,” he told Truck News, adding that a service station about five kilometres away that supported the old ferry dock is the only other parking place available to truckers close by.
“This is not unique to the winter months,” Esson said of the shutdown. ” It happens quite frequently throughout the year where the winds are too high for trucks and high-sided vehicles to cross the bridge safely.”
Esson said that when the bridge closes it is often for a full day, so there needs to be support for that kind of downtime.
“Ideally there should be some kind of structure that has proper washroom facilities,” he said. “Somewhere the drivers can have a shower, food of some type -where they can park safely off the highway and have the use of some amenities.”
During this latest shutdown, some truckers suggested they could cross if they were the only traffic on the bridge and it had room to sway. That would not have been safe, said the bridge’s general manager, Michel Le Chasseur, citing tests done in 2008 which demonstrated that a truck driving in the middle of the bridge was at more risk than one simply staying in its lane.
A fully-equipped truck stop would have been a boon to the idled truckers. Irwin Docherty parked his rig at an Aulac, N.B. truck stop, more than 45 kms from the bridge, where he said he did a lot of crossword puzzles to try and ease the boredom.
Le Chasseur said the bridge had never been closed for this long since it opened in 1997.