The District of 100 Mile House will exempt essential service and emergency vehicles from new weight restrictions on the Horse Lake Bridge in an emergency.
Council made the decision last week, as Horse Lake Road is the area’s main detour route in the event of a major accident. The move comes after the District last summer imposed gross vehicle weights to 13,620 kilograms at both ends of the bridge, facing oncoming traffic, to avoid overloading the two-lane wooden crossing. The weight limits were imposed after an assessment found certain individual “hollow core” piles may not have sufficient capacity for commercial traffic.
David Rhodes, of Dawson Maintenance, raised concerns about the weight limits last week at the Cariboo Joint Committee of the Cariboo Regional District on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure last week, noting they can’t handle more than a single-axel vehicle and are “right on the edge” for maintenance equipment as well as the district’s largest fire truck.
“How we will respond, what’s going to be the course of action, when we have a chemical spill at 93 Mile that shuts down 93 Mile for three days … how we will handle commercial traffic?” Rhodes asked.
Committee members agreed the situation is problematic. While District councillors agreed to exempt emergency vehicles, commercial vehicles and logging trucks that exceed the allowable restrictions must still use alternate access routes until a new bridge can be built, likely in 2022. The District also agreed last week to apply for an Investment Canada Infrastructure grant, and commit up to 1.4 million to cover any shortfalls, to replace the bridge.
100 Mile District Coun. Dave Mingo said Horse Lake is not an appropriate detour route, noting he almost got taken out by a fuel tanker on that road.
“There should not be this truck traffic going down Horse Lake Road,” he said, noting the majority of traffic on the bridge comes from the CRD and not the district.
“It is a bit of a bone of contention for us,” he said. “We’re trying to find alternative ways to get that fixed. The 100 Mile taxpayers are paying for a bridge replacement for traffic that’s flowing on a provincial highway. It’s a little bit of a pill to swallow for someone representing taxpayers.”
Al Richmond, CRD director for 108 Mile-Lac La Hache, agreed it “seems somewhat unfair” that the district has to upgrade that bridge and MoTI should offer more support. He cited other issues in rural areas, such as the 108 where large trucks tried to get through in an emergency and suggested there should be more pre-planning done.
“That’s the problem with rural roads. The cost of maintaining bridges is huge,” he said. “There should be something done, it’s really not fair – even the logging trucks coming down Horse Lake Road, that’s a lot of weight to be pounding down in a residential area.”