Ontario’s VW&D proposed reforms enter third phase

TORONTO, (July 8, 2004) — The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has just released its discussion paper detailing Phase 3 of the province’s vehicle weight and dimension reforms.

While Phase 1 dealt with 3-axle semi trailers, and Phase 2 dealt with dump trucks, Phase 3 examines all remaining semi-trailers as well as double trailers, and some adjustments to power units. The proposal — which provides a sufficient range of new vehicle configurations and payload capabilities — are specifically aimed at eliminating the remaining use of lift axles, often in favour of self steering axles, in what the MTO calls specially-designed vehicles — or Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly (SPIF) alternative vehicles.

The Ministry contends the proposals will only affect the 25 per-cent of non-SPIF tractor- trailer combinations operating on Ontario highways.

Phase 4 — which deals with straight trucks, as well as a further examination of multi-axle tractors — will commence once Phase 3 is implemented.

New legislation based on the finalized proposals is expected to be in place by mid 2005 to cover trailers built as of January 1, 2006. Existing trailers would be grandfathered for a minimum of 10 years, by special permit for 15 years, and 20 years for liquid and bulk tankers, from the date of manufacture of the trailer.

One of the many proposed changes would allow vehicles the SPIF tri-drive tractor option. To meet this standard, for example, vehicles would require longer tractor wheelbase of 6.6 to 6.8m; a trailer wheelbase restricted to12.0m; and a minimum weight on front axle is established, with 27 per-cent weight on drives.

Some other proposed changes — each with their own set of requirements — include:

Allowing all SPIF semi-trailers a maximum length of 16.2m; increasing SPIF A-train maximum box length to 20m; allowing all SPIF vehicles to be equipped with additional lift-axles to optimize payloads between Michigan and Ontario (axles may not be deployed in Ontario); allowing a wider tandem spread on 2 and 3-axle SPIF semi-trailers to improve
harmonization with Michigan and other states; increasing tandem and tridem axle weights on SPIF double trailers; increasing the 3,000 kg per tire weight cap to 3,850 kg for longer SPIF vehicles; and eliminating the 1,500 kg aggregate gross weight reduction for all SPIF vehicles.

The discussion paper detailing all the proposals can be downloaded at www.mto.gov.on.ca. The ministry is encouraging carriers to comment on the proposals by October 31, 2004. Interested parties can send comments directly to Ron Madill at ron.madill@mto.gov.on.ca.

The MTO says it welcomes opinions on the proposed rules as they pertain to various industrial sectors and businesses; operational or safety concerns with the vehicles proposed; harmonization issues with neighbouring jurisdictions; infrastructure concerns; compliance and enforcement issues; or any other undue hardships.

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