Winter weights to come into effect Dec. 1

A loaded semi-trailer leaves Meadow Lake Mechanical Pulp last week. Its destination is North Battleford where the pulp bale gets loaded onto a rail car.

By Mac Christie

Winter weights won’t come into effect on area highways until Dec. 1 this year, allowing for the hauling of greater weights on certain roads.

Doug Wakabayashi, spokesperson for the ministry of highways, said the weights can come into effect as early as Nov. 16, but for the last two years Dec. 1 has been the start date.

“The roads can handle more weight in the winter because the whole structure of the road is frozen in the winter months,” he explained.

Conrad Read, the district operations manager for highways in Meadow Lake, said based on temperatures the weights come into effect on Dec. 1, except in extreme conditions.

Read explained that the ministry has thermistors buried under the highways at strategic locations to monitor the weather conditions.

“They measure how much frost there is, the depth it’s at and what the temperature is at that depth,” Read said, adding the ministry waits for a combined 250 degrees of frost in the ground.

He noted roads are often damaged if the first 15 centimetres is frozen, but the ground is thawed underneath, adding the winter weights allow for weights on some highways in the area, such as Highway 155 north of Green Lake, a secondary highway.

“Basically (truckers) are allowed to haul primary weights on secondary highways in the wintertime,” Read said.

Roads such as Highway 4 south of Meadow Lake or Highway 55 east to Green Lake are designated primary weight, which means vehicles are able to haul up to 46,500 kg, based on a six-axle vehicle. In the summer, secondary weights are up to 40,000 kg on a six-axle set up.

Doug Schmalz, a grain hauler who lives west of Meadow Lake, said the winter weights don’t have a lot of impact on his business.

“Our secondary roads go up to primary weight,” he said. “It would affect our routes a little bit.”

However, he admits it is easier, because it allows him to haul full, 42 ton loads most of the time.

Meanwhile, Bill Murray of Mistik Management, also said the weights don’t affect their business much, because most of their log hauling is done through permitted weights, which aren’t impacted as much by the winter weights.

Still, he said it does lower their costs to an extent.

“During the summer if we want to haul certain weights we have to pay road fees, and then when you get the frost you don’t have to pay the fees anymore.” 

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