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Bridging the gap

Yet another truck has hit the Kemnay bridge.

The semi that hit the bridge early Friday afternoon is just the latest in a parade of bridge-semi collisions at this now-infamous location.

This comes barely one month after the last time a semi-truck driver ignored the many warning signs and lights and collided with the bridge. As a result, a 42-year-old man from Calgary was charged with failing to obey a traffic control device and handed a $203 fine.

The situation has become such a joke that within minutes of the collision yesterday some enterprising farceur decided to create a Kemnay bridge Twitter account to mark the occasion.

This would all be funnier if it wasn’t so dangerous — imagine if the railway bridge ever did suffer worse than minor damage, especially if one of the many Canadian Pacific trains carrying hazardous materials were to be crossing during or just after the collision.

Certainly it’s an irritation to the railway company. Whenever there is an incident involving the bridge, CP halts traffic along the rails and dispatches a team of experts to ensure the bridge is safe. This is time-consuming and undoubtedly expensive for the company.

And it’s an enormous waste of time for the RCMP as well as the road is closed. It takes time to deal with damages and getting tow trucks in position to remove the wedged semis.

“It’s more disappointing than anything,” RCMP Brandon Staff Sgt. Mike Zens said last month. “It certainly is a drain on our resources and quite frankly, I do believe that we could better be utilized in other capacities — investigating other crimes as opposed to spending our time directing traffic and removing vehicles.”

At least a half-dozen semis crash into the bridge every year. Kemnay bridge crashes typically occur when semis are heading eastbound, coming off the Trans-Canada Highway, even though the warnings are clearly visible for both eastbound and westbound motorists.

The director of regional operations with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, Herb Mahood, has said that the majority of operators who crash into the bridge are from out of province. He believes that these drivers must be relying on their GPS and ignoring the signs.

But at this point, the province has thrown up its arms in frustration. There are no plans to add new signs or extra flashing lights — what would be the point if the obvious ones that are there are already ignored?

And there are no plans to raise the bridge or build a new overpass anytime soon. Highway 1A was resurfaced recently, and Mahood told the Sun that the clearance was not reduced.

After our editorial on the subject last month, Sun readers sent us many suggestions, but MIT previously assured us that it has already tried everything within its power to improve the situation. Clearly what MIT has tried is not working.

We can offer one suggestion though. What if Manitoba Highways contacted the companies that sell GPS equipment and packages to trucking companies, such as Garmin Dezl, Titan Road Master or Comanche Pathfinder, and asked them to add a warning to truckers to their GPS systems regarding the low bridge at Kemnay?

Nothing else is working. If truckers are relying on their GPS as Mahood suggests, then it’s time to go straight to the source.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 10, 2014

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Yet another truck has hit the Kemnay bridge.

The semi that hit the bridge early Friday afternoon is just the latest in a parade of bridge-semi collisions at this now-infamous location.

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Yet another truck has hit the Kemnay bridge.

The semi that hit the bridge early Friday afternoon is just the latest in a parade of bridge-semi collisions at this now-infamous location.

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