Sheriffs issued the fines for oversized trucks on a bridge
By Diego Flammini
Two farmers from Alberta were on the receiving end of expensive traffic tickets last month.
Brian Allam was driving his truck with a load of gravel back to the family farm in Thorhild, and Richard Petherbridge, a cash crop grower from Bon Accord, had a load of oats when they each went over the Vinca Bridge on Highway 38 near Redwater.
At the time, Alberta sheriffs were on the lookout for commercial truckers exceeding the bridge’s 20-tonne weight limit.
Allam’s fine was $15,904 and a picture of the ticket was posted to the Alberta Sheriffs Facebook page. Petherbridge received a ticket for $25,492.
Alberta Sheriffs/Facebook photo
The sign warning truck drivers of the bridge’s weight limit was too close to make any route corrections.
“Having the sign 20 feet (six metres) in front of the bridge just doesn’t work,” Chris Allam, Brian’s son, told Global News. “You can’t back up on the highway because that would be dangerous and illegal, and there was no detour route laid out, so he went across the bridge and got a ticket.”
After an investigation, Alberta Transportation officials agreed.
“After investigating the south approach to the Vinca Bridge, it was evident that the signage warning drivers of the weight restriction on the bridge was inadequately placed and did not give commercial drivers enough warning to avoid the bridge without making an unsafe highway manoeuvre, such as backing up on a highway,” Mark Jacka, a ministry spokesperson, told Global News.
The tickets are now before the courts and the farmers want to see their fines dropped.
“I think they should be cancelled,” Petheridge told Global News. “And maybe a registered letter with an apology in it.”
This situation can be used as an opportunity to have conversations about the unique infrastructure needs of farmers and other truckers.
The issue of haulers and bridges has been an important conversation over the years, said Lynn Jacobson, president of the Alberta Federation of Agriculture.
“It’s definitely something that gets talked about often,” he told Farms.com. “Truckers should be aware of weight limits, but at the same time we need signage that gives us enough time to get off the highway and make other adjustments.
“The last thing we want to do is purposely ignore the weight restrictions. There have been stories of bridges going down because a truck was too heavy, and that’s definitely not something we want to happen.”
Farms.com has reached out to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry for comment.