Lakehead Truck Ban Likely to Get Queen’s Park Support: Update

THUNDER BAY — The likelihood of 53-ft trucks being banned from Thunder Bay’s popular Dawson Road is growing by the day. 

That comes despite evidence that the ban will increase costs, create confusion, and force trucks from across Canada to burn up to a million* extra liters of diesel fuel a year.

The road in question provides a shortcut linking two sections of the Trans-Canada cutting 16 km off trips.

It’s a familiar route for truckers and until 1998, belonged to the Province. Since it was transferred to the Municipality, several efforts have been made to ban bigger trucks but this is the first time that the attempts might work. This effort was armed with a 2,000-name anti-long-truck petition.

Last week, Council passed a resolution banning 53-ft trucks but at the time indicated the ban required buy-in from the Province.

The resolution that the City passed required Queen’s Park to install signage on the provincial highways, warning trucks headed toward Dawson, that there was a restriction ahead.

Otherwise unsuspecting truck drivers will arrive at Dawson and be forced to change their plans mid-trip.  

The Ministry informed this week that it will work with the the City to have appropriate signage in place.  No time limit was established.

Other issues remain unsolved.

For one, several carriers are located directly on Dawson, most prominently QuikX and the locally owned Biloski Bros., a severe-duty gravel hauler with flatbeds and even ice road equipment.  

The proposed bylaw includes exceptions for local traffic, so Biloski as well as QuikX equipment can get to and from their yards. But as one observer pointed out, Canada’s largest trucking fleet, TransForce Inc., recently purchased QuikX. Does that mean all of TransForce’s 7,000 or so trucks get to use Dawson?  And what would TransForce competitors and other Northern Ontario operators have to say about that?

The upshot of the ban will yield more congestion on other arteries, increased safety hazards at intersections unaccustomed to truck traffic, a bigger carbon footprint for Thunder Bay and finally, more stories on the issue on Stay tuned.

* The million-liter estimate is based on the bypass taking 16 km off the trip, trucks averaging 6 mph and about 500 trucks running each day six days of the week 52 weeks of the year. That estimate doesn’t include mechanical wear and tear, time or driver’s wages. The costs could soar into the millions. Our first reports on the route stated the shortcut takes 26 km off a trip. That was based on the best information available. In fact, it saves 16 km.) 


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