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Highways under-spec’d: UNB

FREDERICTON, N.B. - A University of New Brunswick study says North American highways were never properly designed for commercial trucks.It indicates that the roads were made for smaller automobile tra...


BAD NEWS: The researchers say most roads in North America are out-of-date.
BAD NEWS: The researchers say most roads in North America are out-of-date.

FREDERICTON, N.B. – A University of New Brunswick study says North American highways were never properly designed for commercial trucks.

It indicates that the roads were made for smaller automobile traffic and as a result, transport trucks might be constantly pushed to their performance limits.

Civil engineering professor Frank Wilson, who has been one of the leading minds in the area of transportation-related design for more than 20 years, headed the study.

“It’s not a drastic oversight; that’s the way roads have been designed from square one,” explains Wilson.

Since the beginning of the highway-era in the 1920s, roads were engineered with the thinking that truckers would know not to travel at posted speed limits under certain conditions.

“When those standards were implemented, there was very little truck traffic on the highways,” Wilson says. “It’s grown drastically in the last decade, and I believe the time has come when highway designers have to be more conscious of the operating characteristics of heavy trucks.”

Wilson initiated this study after working on a multi-disciplinary research study of heavy-vehicle rollovers six years ago. The group studied rollover thresholds through a co-operative agreement with Moncton, N.B.-based Armour Transport. Armour trucks were equipped with instruments to record load-weights, speeds, highway designs and weather conditions.

“They have to start taking that into more consideration relative to design standards,” concludes Wilson.

Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) president Ralph Boyd says he’s startled by the apparent conclusion that governments have been designing roads without considering commercial traffic. n


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