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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 todaystrucking.com 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 todaystrucking.com. 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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THE ROAD-SCHOLAR

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Firstly, "53-ft trucks"...is this editor-speak or the term used by the municipal authorities? Legal length limits for trucks all across North America is 41-ft (12.5 M). However, if the issue in question involves Tractor/Trailers, than the 53-ft trailer length really has not bearing on the matter, since the wheelbase (center-drive to center trailer bogey) is limited to 41-ft, no matter whether the trailer length is 45, 48 or 53 feet! The difference in length between 45, 48 and 53-footers manifests itself on the rear-overhang, which - in the forward motion on the road - does not affect maneuvrability and is hardly noticable by the other road-users. Secondly, I would argue that the stretch of Hwy 11/17 between the Thunder Bay Airport and Kakabeka Falls is a lot more populated than the Dawson Road (Rte 102) bypass. Come to think of it, more than 60% of the Dawson Rd's 39 km length is practically devoid of residential housing, counting no more than 50 (hobby)-farms and delapidated shacks on that stretch. And last, but not least, you (editor) are way too obtimistic with your 1 Mio Liter fuel-waste estimate. To wit: The linehaul truck traffic runs 7 days/week; the average fuel consumption operating through urban/city traffic is not 6 mpg (btw, that's MPG not MPH as indicated in your story!), but will more likely hover around 5.2 mpg (45 L/100 km), thus the additional fuel consumed to avoid Dawson Road can safely be estimated to be 1.3 Mio Litres (actually, 1,324,234 L). But then again why should the authorities worry, that just means another $193,338 of 'found' fuel-tax revenues for our almighty provincial coffers ;-)

Anonymous

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Hi ! Soon this community will brag that their economy goes down because of lack of people stopping for fuel & food !! how comme the GREENS are not there to shout about using more fuel for no good reason !!!

JimW

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Maybe the transportation industry needs to pay just for the roads we can use and not the crap they stop us from using. The IFTA system just puts millions into a system we can't access. Need to map out the roads we are allowed to play on and only use our taxes for just those roads. Let the users of said roads pay for the upkeep. This crap about what hwys we can use is the Govt's way of stopping trucks from towns like most of the communities on their "no truck parking" or "stopping". Time to step up and demand better working conditions from our crappy Govt dept heads. This freaking road is so rough it should be outlawed because of lack of service on such used hwy. Where the taxes went, is into a road with more lights and traffic conditions into a city we try to avoid to keep us rolling onto delivery. 2012 and we still have issues like this! The people in charge of monies doled out should be kicked in the butt for not following up on where it went. Time to segregate transportation money from the rest so we can benefit and keep rolling.

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