Deteriorating conditions leave Manitoba truckers stranded

WRONG LAKE, Man. — As the winter road season in Manitoba was cut short, so was the trek home for a number of truckers.

The province officially closed the winter road network at midnight on March 15, and less than 24 hours later some trucks trying to make their way back to the southern part of Manitoba became stuck in the deteriorating roads.

According to local media, about half dozen rigs were held up near Wrong Lake – about 350 km north of Winnipeg – after leaving St. Theresa Point a few days earlier.

“It caught us all off guard,” says Bob Dolyniuk, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association. “Right now when I look out my window there’s no snow, which is highly unusual for this time around here.”

According to the province, the winter road system covers about 2,200 km and serves over 30,000 Manitobans in more than 20 communities with no permanent roads.

Half of the winter road system opened on Feb. 1, with the remaining winter roads opening on Feb. 12. Typically, the hauling season lasts for two months and approximately 2,500 shipments of staple items such as fuel, groceries, construction materials and general freight are transported by commercial trucks from the south to the north.

The carriers who haul along the winter system make up a very small segment of the trucking community, says Dolyniuk, and these situations have happened in the past, but “not to this extent.”

The provincial budget to open and maintain the winter road system this season was more than $9 million. The province has made an effort to move off of ice surfaces, 600 km of the system so far, when possible to further improve safety and reduce environmental risks.

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