Truckers Just Can’t Stop Hitting Overpasses in BC

There had been 35 overpass strikes in BC in the past three years when we started writing this article, according to the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Before we could finish, trucks hit three more overpasses, including two in 24 hours.

The Ministry’s hit sheet only goes back three years, but The Deep Dive has found news reports detailing five other overpasses hit by commercial vehicles in 2017 & 2018, including two in 14 hours on the Glover Road overpass over Highway 1 in Langley.

The Glover overpass has been struck three times in three years, tied for second place with the overpass at 112th on Highway 99 in Delta. The 264th street overpass at Highway 1 in Langley has been hit six times in the past three years, while its neighboring Highway 1 overpasses at 232nd St., and the nearby CP Rail crossing have been struck once and twice each in the past 3 years, respectively.

Before Sep 2023, the Ministry only dealt out one suspension for striking an overpass. That suspension took Chohan Freight Forwarders off the road June 8th, 2022, while the Ministry investigated the company’s fifth overpass strike in six months, its second on the 264th St. overpass.

It was back on the road 22 days later, and its trucks managed to clear all overhead obstacles until one of them hit the 112th St. overpass on Highway 99 (again) December 28th, 2023.

Chohan has become a popular target of the BC media amidst the latest frenzy of overpass smashings, its trucks having hit BC overpasses a total of six times in the past three years, including the 264th St. and 112th St. overpasses twice each. The carrier is presently serving its second suspension in three years while its latest strike is being investigated.

Chohan is one of four BC carriers currently suspended while their most recent strikes are being investigated by the Ministry of Transportation. Two of those strikes occurred in the past seven days. If the Ministry holds to its pattern, the suspensions will last as long as it takes for the company to file a safety plan, & tell the ministry they’re implementing it.

LOW OVERHEAD

The fine in BC for an overheight load was $115 until the province increased it to $575 in December of 2023, making it the highest in the country.

MJI Contracting Inc. smashed up a Highway 97 overpass at Westside Road near Kelowna in October of 2023, before the province raised the fine. Global News reports that between the fines levied at the scene and fines applied after the investigation, the incident cost MJI a total of $1,208, and a ten day suspension.

Filling the tanks on the average Peterbilt truck capable of hauling a load that might strike an overpass would costs $2,257 at today’s Lower Mainland diesel price. (THANKS A LOT, TRUDEAU!!).

The fine increase and sudden appearance of short suspensions doesn’t yet seem to have inspired enough caution in BC truckers to keep their loads under clearance height. A truck carrying a helicopter hit a sign hanging from the Gilmore overpass on Highway 1 in Burnaby this past Monday January 15, 2024. The ministry told CTV News that the driver had a permit for an overheight load, and was following the planned route, but the load’s height exceeded the height on the permit.

To date, all 27 concluded ministry investigations have found that the strikes were caused by “driver error,” and in 15 of the the 27 cases, also blamed carrier error. So far, none of the carriers have been suspended for any longer than it took the Ministry to finish their investigation, and determine that the driver tried to drive under an overpass that was shorter than their truck or the load it was carrying.

A local crane truck driver that The Deep Dive asked about the rash of overpass strikes also blamed the driver error: “Bad operators. Almost every day me and other lumber delivery drivers have to take a measurement of my truck height to be sure not to take out power/data lines on the roads (especially the lanes) as every load is different and not full packs. These guys are just lazy and unprofessional.”

No word on whether Chohen Freight Forwarders was involved in this classic Super Dave Osborne Moment

Information for this briefing was found via the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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