A fully-loaded truck drives across the Diefenbaker Bridge in Prince Albert. Ragnar Haagen/News Talk Radio
There is no question that the trucking industry has been hurt by weight restrictions placed on the Diefenbaker Bridge over the past six months, especially those companies that operate in and around the city.
It has caused many of them to change their travel routes when hauling heavy loads between Saskatoon and any site north of Prince Albert and the same is true if travelling in the opposite direction. This has added more time, more kilometers and more cost to everyone's bottom line.
"It has definitely caused us some hardship, we have to go around 250 km just to get from one side of Prince Albert to the other," said Francis Fremont, owner and operator of Fremont Trucking.
"So it was definitely hard. We tried passing it on to our customers but we couldn't pass it all on."
Fremont Trucking is based in Redwing, just north of Prince Albert and across the Diefenbaker Bridge. Most of their loads are headed for Saskatoon, which means they have to detour through Blaine Lake and Shellbrook, even if the itinerary says P.A.
"If you want a dollar figure, we're probably at a loss of about $20,000 in the last six months because of it," said Fremont.
That's why this morning's news that the provincial government would be increasing the weight restriction to 63,500 kg comes as a welcome surprise.
"It was good news," said Fremont, who chose not to carry lighter loads across the bridge because in the end, that type of business just wasn't feasible for him.
"It'll be back to normal for us anyways, we'll be able to use it both ways now."
Another company who has been affected by the weight restrictions is Northern Resource Trucking, but Dave Mcilmoyl, the company's vice president and general manager says they've probably fared better than others.
"It didn't make a huge difference to us, we went around through Shellbrook which added about 50 miles to our round trips," said Mcilmoyl, whose company does a lot of trucking for Cameco.
"We bill a lot of our stuff by the mile and we passed any extra routing on to them because they're the customer so it didn't really affect us."
All those extra miles can really add up fast, especially when the company makes approximately 25 runs per day.
"We just changed the routing for our drivers, we changed the fuel stops and tire repair place and that was about it. I guess our guys got to know some new coffee shops," laughed Mcilmoyl.
With the increased weight, Mcilmoyl believes almost all of their trucks will now be able to come home via the bridge, unless they're hauling a full load back to Saskatoon.