Super singles approved in Alberta

CALGARY, Alta. – As of July 1, the Government of Alberta has given the green light to the use of wide-base single tires on provincial roadways.

Following in the recent footsteps of Saskatchewan, trucks in Alberta will now be permitted to use the new generation single tire at at-par weights – single axle (9,100kg); tandem axle (17,000kg); tandem axle with spread 2.4 meters or more but less than three meters (21,000kg); and tandem axle with spread three meters or more but not more than 3.7 meters (24,000kg).

With Manitoba also allowing the use of wide-base single tires, B.C. is the lone Western Canadian province that has not yet given the thumbs up to the new tire.

Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) president Lorraine Card received the news from the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Brian Mason, and is relieved the ongoing effort has finally come to fruition.

“This file has been open for over 10 years, so we are very pleased that we’ve been able to come to a successful conclusion,” said Card.

Trucking companies in Ontario and Quebec have long been able to use the new generation tire, but in Western Canada the process has been much slower.

Alberta Transportation, along with the AMTA, conducted a pilot project to determine if wide-base single tires would be a viable alternative to the traditional dual tire in an effort to save fuel and help the Government of Alberta make future decisions on the new generation tire. And during the yearlong pilot, super singles showed an average of 8% fuel savings compared to duals.

Initially, Westcan Bulk Transport was the lone company participating in the pilot, making runs between Edmonton and Calgary from July 1 to Aug. 31, 2016, carrying the maximum allowable axle loads as permitted on a two-tire configuration. Westcan made 98 trips per week (14 per day) on this run, which the government said would limit the number of variables to measure, making the data easy to interpret.

Rosenau Transport eventually came into the fold, testing the wide-base single tire and ending Phase 2 of the project at the end of January.

Rosenau Transport did the same run as Westcan between Edmonton and Calgary with full weights on the super singles, but also included trips on Highway 63 to Fort McMurray and Highway 43 to Grande Prairie.

Card said the AMTA had attempted to get approval for higher weights for the pilot project, but ultimately did concede to lower weight limits to what was tested during the pilot and has now been approved by the provincial government.

Initial concerns over the use of wide-base single tires were focused around potential road damage, but Card said studies on the 455 super single were telling.

“Speaking to our counterparts in Ontario and Quebec,” she said, “they have not seen any noticeable pavement damage. For example, if a road was scheduled to be done in 20 years, it might now have to be done in 19.98 years. There has been no noticeable pavement damage with the use of these tires.”

Drivers who have used the new generation tire have also relayed to the AMTA that they offer a nice ride and superior handling during all seasons.

The pilot program is now complete, running from July 2016 to this past June.

However, because the Government of Alberta’s authority is limited to provincial highways, the use of super singles is limited, and is still not permitted within municipalities.

“We still need to continue working with the various municipalities to get approval for those roads,” Card said, adding that there are 340 municipalities in Alberta. “The province only has authority over provincial highways, and anything in municipalities goes back to the individual municipalities.”

This poses some challenges to companies looking to pick up and drop of freight in a city or town, but Card is confident municipalities will hop on board.

“We’re hopeful that all of the municipalities will buy into the process and will allow the tires,” said Card. “The provincial government is working on getting information and communication out there to (municipalities) to let them know of the minister’s announcement.”

Card admitted that there is a cost to companies looking to change over to wide-base single tires, and now that they have been approved, she expects the new technology to take a bit of time to become commonplace.

“I think it will be a slow process,” Card said. “Any discussions we have had with our membership was wait-and-see what’s going to happen. We’re not expecting every truck to start running new generation tires in the province. We hope to see that there will be more of an uptake with these tires going forward.”

Card did point out that trucks coming from the east will now be allowed to run super singles right through to the Alberta-B.C. border.

“It’s just another way to break down some of the barriers,” she said.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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  • I guess its about time Alberta okayed this. Having said this I remember back in 1990 while driving on the 401 that there were wear grooves in the pavement made by thousands of trucks, when I started driving with super single tires my truck & trailer would get into the grooves and made it somewhat difficult to steer. But I could carry more weight with these tires.