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Puslinch on shortlist for relocated truck inspection stations

by Mike Robinson

ABERFOYLE - The widening of Highway 401 in Halton Region may result in truck inspection stations being relocated to Puslinch.

On Oct. 4, councillors were updated on the Ministry of Transportation project to identify new sites for the Highway 401 north and south Halton truck inspection stations.

New sites are needed as the 401 widening will result in the closure of existing inspection stations near Trafalgar Road.

Senior project engineer, for the Peel-Halton section Sabina Merey and Gregg Cooke of Stantec Engineering spoke about the planning and design for the project.

Cooke said Stantec was retained by the Ministry of Transportation to undertake the preliminary design and environmental assessment study.

The study seeks to find two new sites to replace the existing truck inspection stations on Highway 401 near Trafalgar Road, he said.

In addition, Cooke said the facilities will be upgraded to commercial vehicle inspection facility (CVIF) standards.    

He said the objectives of the first  public meeting were to introduce the project, outline the process and schedule, provide background information, present existing conditions and site alternatives, obtain comments on the criteria to be used for evaluating the alternatives, and answer questions about the study.

“We are still at the early stages of looking at alternatives,” Cooke said.

The study area along Highway 401 is from Trafalgar Road in Halton Region to Brock Road/Highway 6 south at Morriston.

Cooke said the existing stations are older facilities really focused on weighing trucks. The newer facilities will provide much more rigourous inspections, Cooke explained.

As such, the new inspection stations will require larger facilities and more space, he added.

Study need and

justification

Cooke said the existing truck inspection stations near Trafalgar Road will be permanently closed as a result of the planned widening of Highway 401 between Regional Road 25 and the Credit River in Mississauga.

Cooke said the highway will be widened to a 12-lane core collector facility with dedicated express lanes.

He explained that type of highway is not conducive to truck inspection facilities.

Cooke said the option of doing nothing and just closing the facilities is not really feasible.

“Truck inspection stations are an integral part of the highway safety network in Ontario,” he told council.

While the idea of new facilities at the existing site was reviewed, Cooke said it would be challenging with Highway 401 express lanes running through the area - and the proximity of interchanges.

Therefore the project is proceeding with the idea of relocating the inspections stations, Cooke said.

What is a CVIF?

The ministry monitors the condition of commercial motor vehicles and drivers operating in Ontario and, when necessary, takes corrective action.

One way this is done is through vehicle and driver inspections performed by ministry enforcement staff at commercial vehicle inspection facilities (CVIFs).

The new design replaces the previous inspection station standard, which focused only on weight and economic or regulatory violations.

The new design of inspection stations assess compliance with the following:       

- driver qualification, behaviour, and hours of service;

- vehicle mechanical fitness, load security, permitting, and documentation;

- transportation of dangerous goods compliance; and

- vehicle weight and dimension.

Cooke said this is following a Class EA process.

Of the 10 potential site  alternatives, four are located within Puslinch, Cooke said.

He said locations were chosen where there is space to accommodate the footprint of the proposed larger facilities.

“At this point we are looking at all of the alternatives and working our way through the evaluation process,” Cooke said.

Another public information meeting will be scheduled late next year to offer the preferred alternatives.

Council questions

Councillor John Sepulis asked for clarification on how much land is needed for each inspection station.

Cooke said the entire area, including provisions for septic and stormwater management, is about 10 hectares  (or 25 acres).

Sepulis suggested the study not “twin” the stations across from each other on the highway to minimize impact.

He said, “It looks obvious the two favourite options are in Puslinch.”

Councillor Ken Roth said when he looks at reports outlining the number of failed truck inspections, “It seems very high and I see a need for the truck inspection stations.”

Councillor Matthew Bulmer asked what levels of repairs could happen at the inspection stations.

Cooke understood they would only be minor repairs, adding, “Anything major would require the truck to be towed elsewhere.”

Councillors asked about potential connections of the facilities to local roads.

Merey said typically, all connections to the facility would be via Highway 401.

Bulmer said there is a benefit to the community by having safe trucks, but it is difficult to measure the benefit to the municipality by having an inspection station located locally.

One potential downside, Bulmer suggested, would be drivers using local roads to avoid the inspection stations.

Cooke said it is something to be considered.

“My understanding is that in addition to inspections, there are patrols to determine if there are vehicles bypassing the facilities,” said Cooke, who noted both the MTO and OPP would patrol potential bypass routes.

Councillor Susan Fielding asked whether inspection stations might lead to increased traffic congestion.

Cooke believed the congestion was simply an aspect of larger traffic volumes.

Fielding added that any increased accidents on the highway would put a burden on the municipality because of increased calls to the local fire department.

As to the potential of traffic bypassing the facilities, Mayor Dennis Lever commented, “When there are problems on the 401, everyone is trying to bypass the highway.”

October 20, 2017

 
 

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