OTA continues to work with authorities at the highest levels to resolve the ongoing restrictions of the Trans-Canada highway at the Nipigon River Bridge. OTA has the following updates to report:
As reported earlier, MTO opened one lane of traffic early this morning. Alternating eastbound and westbound traffic is moving very slowly at this time, with each commercial truck requiring an escort vehicle to cross.
The situation remains fluid and officials are not any closer to providing a clear timeline when the bridge is ready to open completely. OTA has been told that details should be available by mid-week.
In the meantime, OTA has learned of a possible contingency route that could be made available in the event of prolonged restrictions. OTA has been in discussions with provincial and municipal authorities about the feasibility and practicality of opening up a bush trail several kilometres north of the bridge, which bypasses the bridge and reconnects with Highway 11. There are no guarantees the road – which in its current state is not serviceable for commercial vehicles – would be approved as a viable alternate route for carriers, but OTA continues to seriously explore this and other options with transportation officials.
Weights and Dimensions
As reported in the previous News Flash, trucks operating above Highway Traffic Act (HTA) limits for weight will not be permitted to cross the bridge at this time. OTA has confirmed this includes all loads operating under MTO single-trip oversize/overweight permits. The MTO permits office has advised carriers with existing single trip permits of this issue and has ceased the issuance of any further single trip permits until further notice. Current and future applicants will also be advised by MTO of these restrictions as permit applications are submitted. Loads operating under MTO’s annual oversize permits will still be accommodated as their weights are within HTA limits and their width does not exceed the horizontal restrictions currently on the bridge.
Also, as previously mentioned, Canadian carriers should know they are legally able to move Canadian goods in transit through the US provided the carrier is able to supply an eManifest to USCBP, including the value for all shipments on board – something, admittedly, that to date has been the biggest obstacle for Canadian carriers wishing to move in-transit.
We have been in contact with USCBP and the Government of Canada throughout the day about the possibility to temporarily consider allowing paper in transits without value for the purposes of an emergency contingency. An update on this front could be forthcoming. We will advise the membership about any definite progress on this or other issues related to this event.