What kind of heavy haul traffic we’re seeing this winter

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Counting trucks is becoming a tradition at The Leader. Last week, just out of curiosity, we counted on Hwy. 2 in Slave Lake, west of Main St. We’d been doing it for a couple of months on Hwy. 88. It would be handy to have some figures for comparison.

The method is to spend 15 minutes recording all the heavy trucks that go by. It probably wouldn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, but it is interesting enough.
One reason is to see what kind of a beating our poor highways are taking. Another is to get an idea how many driving jobs there are. Word from government and industry is there aren’t enough drivers.

On Jan. 4, mid-morning, the numbers on Hwy. 2 passing through Slave Lake weren’t that big. Considerably smaller, at least, than the comparable numbers on Hwy. 88, both in November and again in early December. There were 15 trucks in all in that 15 minutes – eight hauling logs, one tank truck and six in the ‘others’ category. These ranged from a truck hauling lumber to big garbage trucks to regular general haulers with the big box.
Logs were going both directions, by the way, although more east than west.

Hwy. 88
The count on Hwy. 88 was the third in three months, done for 15 minutes on the afternoon of Jan. 5. No surprise that with the slightly colder weather (than on the day we did the December count), the number of log trucks was up. But it was still surprisingly low. Log haulers were outnumbered by both tank and ‘other’ types of rigs. Ken Vanderwell of Vanderwell Contractors says there are fewer log trucks on 88 this winter than last winter due to a couple of factors. One is last year was the height of the haul from the McMillan fire area and most of that came down 88. This year, he said – at least in the case of Vanderwell’s, a lot of the haul is over resource roads, thus avoiding 88. So the numbers there don’t say much about the actual level of activity.

In total there were 25 big trucks counted on Jan. 5. Seven were log haulers, eight were tank trucks and 10 were ‘others.’ These included a couple of loads of LaCrete Sawmills lumber going south and one load of chemicals north to the diamond mines (if we’re not mistaken).

So for what it’s worth, if the numbers are consistent through a 12-hour work day, Hwy. 88 would have seen 1,200 trucks on Jan. 5, with only 32 per cent of them being log haulers.

Rolling, rolling, rolling

The log haul for mills in the area is going full steam these days. Word last week from one of the mills is that lumber prices have been heading up again, and that’s good news for local business and employment.

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One thought on “What kind of heavy haul traffic we’re seeing this winter

  1. Congratulations Joe!!
    After all these years as a reporter, you finally perfected the art of idleness and spun it into an actual news story! you’re amazing! keep up the good “work”.

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