Truckers should stay off flood-weakened bridges in southwestern Manitoba or face long detours if they fail, provincial officials said today.
Thirty bridges have already been identified as being "high priority" with six of them on major routes having a weight restriction of 10 tonnes imposed.
"The trucks really need to stay off the bridges if they’re restricted because if they cause a bridge to fail that bridge is going to be out a lot longer, weeks, if not months, before they are back in place," Doug McNeil, deputy minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, said Monday.
"If they stay off and let us do the repair work we can get them back up to normal loading a lot sooner, within weeks."
McNeil didn’t point fingers at any industry for violating with weight restrictions.
"Whoever is out there with large trucks. That’s all I’ll say."
He said the province is aware that large trucks normally carrying 66,000 kilograms (66 tonnes) are still using provincial bridges restricted to 10 tonnes.
If truckers continue to ignore the lower-weight restrictions the province will put up traffic barriers to prevent the trucks from crossing, but allow passenger vehicles to cross.
The warning comes as the province begins to take stock of the damage caused by this summer’s flooding along the Assiniboine River — even though the flood risk still remains high west of Portage la Prairie and on Lake Manitoba.
This morning, the province said flows on the Assiniboine River into the Portage Reservoir west of Portage la Prairie rose to 49,450 cubic feet per second (cfs) and will be increasing as the second crest approaches. Flows from the reservoir into the Portage Diversion are approximately 31,450 cfs and flows into the Assiniboine River are 18,000 cfs.
The second crest at the Portage Reservoir is forecast to be 52,000 to 53,000 cfs between Tuesday and Wednesday and will remain high for a few days before declining.
It’s expected the diversion will handle up to 35,000 cfs and 18,000 cfs will be maintained on the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Headingley and into Winnipeg.
The province said the increased flows on the Assiniboine River have led to a slight revision of the Lake Manitoba peak forecast reaching 814.8 feet by early August. Wind-affected levels on Lake Manitoba this morning were 813.9 feet at Steep Rock and 815 feet at Westbourne.
Officials also said a deliberate breach at the Hoop and Holler Bend southeast of Portage la Prairie remains a possibility — though unlikely — if dikes along the Assiniboine River weaken. A breach at Hoop and Holler would relieve pressure on dikes.
As of this morning, approximately 704 people are evacuated from their homes and communities due to flooding in 2014, including 160 evacuees related to spring flooding.