The government has introduced amendments to the Highway Traffic Act that would give farmers and other truck operators more opportunities to haul heavier loads on Manitoba roads.
"These proposed amendments will help drive rural economic growth by allowing farm and commercial trucks to carry heavier loads on our highway system sooner," said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton. "They will also offer greater flexibility when natural disasters damage part of that critical system."
Under the proposed bill:
- Higher winter weight allowances could be extended by establishing a weather-based approach that would allow roads to remain at the higher weight thresholds for as long as conditions permit;
- When a road or a bridge is damaged by a flood or other disaster and unable to take traffic, the province would have the ability to act more quickly to give access to temporary alternate routes that could reduce detour distances by hundreds of kilometres, resulting in major time savings; and
- As highways are upgraded, commercial and farm trucks would be able to carry the heavier loads immediately.
Currently, the Highway Traffic Act's allowable vehicle weights are set by cabinet regulation. Amending the regulation can be time consuming, which is why it is not currently used for short-term situations. Under the proposed amendments, the minister responsible for highways would have the authority to temporarily increase weights or classifications on highways within a short time.
The government said it will continue to make decisions on the ability of roads to carry heavier weights based on acceptable engineering standards. As well, the Highway Traffic Act will still specify the penalties for any breaches of weight-based limits.