Sinkholes and Floods: Infrastructure Costs Everyone, MTA says

By: Teona Baetu 

WINNIPEG, MB— Traffic on Highway 83 in Manitoba is still being redirected due to a 200 meter sinkhole between Roblin and Asessippi Provincial Park. The sinkhole was caused by heavy rain in early July, according to the CBC.

The Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) told the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) that they are currently doing geological assessments of the area to ensure it is stabilized and that there will not be another landslide. They also said that construction will not start prior to or during winter, according to Terry Shaw, MTA’s general manager.

Shaw says the situation will remain as it is now, until at least the next year.

Shaw also says that although he understands these things take time, he wants to see the situation rectified as soon as possible. Even though it is in a more remote area of Manitoba, Shaw says, it’s still affecting many people.

“It’s a big hole in a feeder highway and as such it’s important to us,” he said. “[Some of our members are] incurring increased costs and delays in receiving materials because people are having a hard time getting in and out of that area.”

In a statement released Aug 9, MIT says truckers and other vehicles should detour around highway 83 onto highway 5 west of Robin and highway 482. MIT says highway 482 can handle maximum legal truck weight as can all bridges and structures on the designated detour route.

However, the MIT also said hwy. 482 will be under construction starting September to ensure it will continue to be able to handle full truck loads and that speed limits will be put in place along the detour route.

The statement concludes with saying that the typical annual road weight restrictions, which are not equivalent to a full truckload, will be again put in place in the Spring of 2013 to protect the road during the thaw period.   

Bill Gade, owner of 83 North Transport in Swan Lake, MA, told the CBC that the detour, itself in rough shape, is costing his company $250 in costs to his trucking routes.

“For someone who lives up there and relies on trucks to bring in groceries and gasoline and other items or people who rely on trucks to bring in their lumber down to Winnipeg for export or sale or remanufacturing – it’s very severe,” Shaw said.

And while it may not affect everyone in the province, Shaw says that it’s generating a lot of interest from many people. Even so, Highway 83 is not Manitoba’s only infrastructure issue.

“Highway 75 floods essentially annually,” Shaw says. “Emerson is the fifth most active road port between Canada and the United States, and every week it’s closed, trucks need to re-route.”

Shaw says this particular re-route costs the trucking industry approximately $1.5 million every week. He also added that the cost doesn’t affect only the trucking industry but the consumers and the industries serviced by trucking, like manufacturing, trade, and construction, among others.

The MTA addressed some of these infrastructure issues at a July meeting with Manitoba’s Minister of State Transport, Steven Fletcher, and Minister of Local Government, Ron Lemieux.

At the meeting, Shaw said that road and bridge infrastructure drives economic development and supports economic activity. He urged all three levels of government to get involved and make investing in infrastructure their top priority.

“Every mile a truck drives, there’s a cost associated with that and the question is whether or not they can recoup those costs.”
Shaw says that when you have an inefficient trucking industry because of infrastructure issues, it limits what you can do, which in turn costs everyone.

“We maybe can’t utilize the technologies we want to, maybe can’t utilize the vehicle combinations we want to, we maybe can’t operate at certain weight levels we want to, causing for us to have to take more loads or loads on longer routes as opposed to direct line routes.

“Highway 83 is an example of a detour that’s costing not only trucking companies but the economy,” Shaw said.
At the meeting, the MTA suggested that the government invests all road taxes back into road and bridge infrastructure

“If we can drive A to B in as straight a line as possible and as efficiently, quickly, and safely as possible, that’s obviously in everyone’s best interest,” Shaw said.


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