Wednesday, 02 April 2014 13:42

Spring weight restrictions eased for farmers in Alta. and Sask.

Written by  Prairie Post
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This spring, farmers across Alberta will be able to obtain free permits to haul grain on provincial highways when road bans are in effect.

Starting April 1, farmers transporting grain from storage to elevators will be exempt from vehicle weight restrictions on provincial highways. Permits will be available at no cost for grain trucks to travel at 100 per cent axle weight on banned roads, as long as these roads are not damaged in the process.
“We’re doing all we can to support Alberta farmers and keep grain moving, even on banned roads when possible. Relaxing road ban limits at a time when our farmers need some flexibility is the right thing to do,” explains Wayne Drysdale, Alberta Minister of Transportation
The special permits will be in effect from April 1 to June 30. Alberta Transportation staff will monitor road conditions during this time and suggest alternate travel routes if necessary to keep motorists safe and protect highway infrastructure.
Check online for a complete list of current road bans and axle-weight restrictions in effect.
How to apply for an Alberta road ban exemption:
• Get a permit request form by contacting Alberta Transportation’s Central Permit Office toll free at 1-800-662-7138 from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays.
• Complete the form by providing information on the trip’s origin, destination, route, trucks covered, weights requested, number of loads required and contact information.
• Get the road ban exemption if the route can withstand your proposed traffic without significant damage according to engineers and regional maintenance staff.
• Contact the local municipality directly for a permit to haul grain on municipal roads.
Spring thawing is tough on Alberta’s provincial highway network, especially on oiled roads and those before final paving is completed.
As a result, road bans are sometimes necessary when roadway structures are at their weakest and can only handle certain weights.
Road bans generally start in Alberta’s south and move north as the temperature increases. Bans are lifted as soon as Alberta Transportation staff determine roads are stable enough to handle regular vehicle weights. Alberta’s exports of agricultural products are valued at more $9 billion annually. The 2013 western Canadian harvest has produced an estimated 75.9 million metric tonnes of major grain crops, nearly 40 per cent more than the five-year average.
The Sask. Provincial Government is also making it easier for farmers to haul their product to awaiting rail cars. In response to the backlog in grain movement out of Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure has taken steps to ease seasonal weight restrictions on some highways.
Shippers and farmers may apply to Ministry District Offices for permits that will allow for heavier than published spring weights.
Circumstances where permits could be granted include roads where ministry staff determine heavier loads will not cause undue road damage, or during colder than seasonal temperatures. Haulers must hold a permit to access the heavier weights.  his flexible approach applies only to agricultural commodities.
The ministry is also launching two pilot projects this year that will see nearly 37 kilometres of rural highway upgraded to supergrids, which will allow for year-round heavy haul for shippers and farmers.
Supergrids, at half of the cost of a primary weight pavement, have been used successfully in Alberta and other jurisdictions. These wider grid roads built on an engineered base can accommodate the heaviest allowable payloads.
The two supergrid projects, which are planned for construction this year are:
• 31 km of Highway 361 from the junction of Highway 9 east to Alida
• 5.5 km of Highway 47, 20 km north of Stoughton.

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