SPECIAL REPORT: Quebec allows full parity between dual and single tires

QUEBEC CITY — Quebec is the first Canadian province to eliminate the weight penalty for using single wide-based tires.

Quebec carriers now interchange wide-base tires or dual tires under the same load standards in Canada. With this decision, the old 1,000 kg per-axle load penalty when using the wide-base tires is gone.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding on Interprovincial Vehicle Weights and Dimensions, provinces agree on a total maximum weight of 9,100 kg per axle. For wide-base tires most, jurisdictions apply a limit of 6,000 per axle.

The 2,900 kg gap made it all but impossible for carriers in most provinces — even if they’re hauling tissue paper — to operate with single tires. Quebec (and most recently Ontario) was the exception, where, with an 8,000 kg limit, carriers could take a 1,000 kg weight penalty or spec singles to U.S. dedicated equipment. South of the border the weight is capped at a maximum load of 17,000 lb or 7,700 kg per axle, putting the limit almost at par with Quebec’s 8,000 kg allowance.

The leading single tire in North America is Michelin’s X-One

Under the new rule recently approved by the Ministère des Transports, Quebec carriers no longer have to segregate single-tire equipment between U.S. and Canadian runs.

However, that parity comes with a price.

Before they equip their tractors and trailers with wide-base tires, Quebec carriers need to call the Ministry to buy a special permit for the thaw period only ($150 + 10 fees); for the rest of the year excluding the thaw period ($250 + fees); or for the whole year ($400).

That fee applies to the tandem axle of a truck tractor or semi-trailer. The cost gets higher as the number of axles increases. For the thaw period, the Ministry announced that using wide-base tires would require a special permit of $250 plus fee for the triple axle or group of class B.44 or B.45 axles (three axles plus a self-steering axle) equipped with single tires on a semi-trailer. For the rest of the year, the cost will be $350, or $600 for the whole year.

Why this special permit? Because the Ministry refers to “some studies [that] have concluded that such tires cause more extensive damage to roads than dual tires.”

The Minister states that, since 2002, special permits have been issued for combinations of five-axle vehicles equipped with single wide-tread tires in order to ensure compatibility with authorized load standards in the U.S. during spring thaw — the two months of the year where the 8,000 kg allowance technically didn’t apply. The cost of the permit reflects the additional damage caused to roads, he says.

The Ministry did acknowledge, however, that in 2005 a study concluded it could be advantageous to use single wide-tread tires instead of the traditional dual tires. These advantages lead to a reduction in fuel consumption, the mass of tires and wheels, and maintenance costs.

Marc Brouillette, chairman of the Quebec Trucking Association, told Today’s Trucking’s sister French-language publication Transport Routier, that group is happy this compromise was finally struck. “It was important for us to explain to the government that the parity was essential for carriers and would allow them to manage their fleet under one set of rules, whatever tires best fit their operations,” Brouillette said.

It was also important for the association that carriers have some flexibility with the special permits.

“The ACQ did what was needed to allow its members to make that business choice. It’s up to them to decide what is the best for them.”

In the rest of the country, there are rumblings that other provinces are on the verge of making allowances for single tire usage.

The government of New Brunswick is reportedly analyzing pavement data from a study done in partnership with the University of Illinois. Engineers ran the province’s pavement data through a testing model in order to produce relative side-by-side comparisons between singles and duals for New Brunswick’s top five roads. If the provincial officials like what they see New Brunswick — and eventually the rest of the neighboring Atlantic provinces — could update its GVW rules for singles.

B.C. is also on the verge of announcing a weight update for singles. Apparently, the province is still deciding whether to raise the limit to 8,000 kg like in Ontario or, like Quebec, make the jump straight to 9,000 for full uniformity between singles and duals.

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