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NWT Trucking Company Mad Over Winter Road Limits

NORMAN WELLS, NWT — Starting bright and early Monday morning, trucks will no longer be allowed to drive on the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road during the day.

Every year the local government restricts vehicles weighing more than 5,000 kg to night-time driving to protect the road from damage, but this year one trucking company is speaking out against the restrictions.

"I feel the government should spend the resources to keep a road open rather than saying, 'Let's restrict the travel on the road,’” said Daniel Burger, operations supervisor for Bassett Petroleum Distributors.

“There are a lot of players up there doing a lot of work on this road, and the communities are relying on this road, to get the goods and services in before the end of the season.”

The CBC reports that temperatures in some Sahtu communities could reach as high as -13 C this upcoming week, which in addition to sunlight could cause major road damage. Welcome to spring.

“What ends up happening is that the heat of the tires going over the winter road, in combination with those conditions, causes rutting,” Earl Blacklock, a spokesperson with the territorial Ministry of Transportation told the CBC. 

During the day, truck drivers are asked to pull over in designated rest or parking areas. The restrictions don't affect regular vehicles.

Burger said the daytime restrictions mean truck drivers have to switch shifts and sleeping patterns, which could be unsafe: "It's one thing we try to prevent: any night driving or any flipping around of a driver's schedule because the danger of fatigue while driving is intense and you know, us being in the trucking industry, a huge focus is the safety of our drivers."

Last year, the section of the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road between the Deline junction and Wrigley was temporarily closed because four trucks ignored the daytime restrictions, the ministry of transportation said. 

 
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