Spring road bans are starting to be put into place across Western Canada as temperatures warm up in the Prairie provinces. The annual restrictions set axle weight limits for vehicles moving on certain roads in an effort to reduce the damage heavier loads can cause during the spring thaw period.
Movements of grain and farm equipment alike can be affected by the spring road bans, as farmers and truckers may need to find alternate routes or haul lighter loads.
Duration of the restrictions depends on the local weather conditions, but typically runs through April and into May. In Alberta, spring road bans ranging from 75 to 90 per cent of normal axle weights were put into place last Friday (March 8) for a number of roads.
Updates on which roads are affected are available from the provincial transportation department. In Saskatchewan, weight restrictions typically start to be implemented in mid-March, with weekly updates provided by the provincial ministry of highways and infrastructure.
Winter weights were no longer allowed, as of Monday (March 11), on a long list of provincial highways and in many municipalities -- and will no longer be allowed Friday (March 15) on the remainder of provincial highways subject to spring weight restrictions. Details are available at the ministry's website. In Manitoba, continued cooler temperatures have delayed the start of spring road restrictions, which will not come into effect until sometime after next Monday (March 18).
The infrastructure and transportation department said it will provide notice 72 hours before the eventual start date. When implemented, the restrictions in Manitoba will vary depending on the road, with level 1 restrictions consisting of 90 per cent of normal loading and 65 per cent of normal on level 2 affected roads.
-- Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.