“They built it too small,” said Carl Hiltz, 78, an independent trucker who’s been driving professionally for more than 60 years. “One mistake and I am going to lose a tire or a rim on it. It’s a mess.”
Besides being too small to properly accommodate tractors and trailers, especially those with extra-wide loads, Hiltz said another concern is that the outside curb on the roundabout is too high.
“They are supposed to be making it better, that is making it worse,” he said. “The only way to fix it is take the outside curb out.”
Hiltz said a lot of truckers use the Masstown exit to reach the nearby Double C truck stop on Highway 2, which serves as a rest stop and a place to eat and shower.
Double C owner Debbie Cock said she has been hearing a lot of criticism from truckers who agree the roundabout is not designed to accommodate their rigs, especially if they have double trailers or are carrying extra large loads, such as wind turbine components.
Hiltz said a number of truckers recently met with a Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) engineer who assured changes would be made to accommodate their concerns but that hasn’t been done. And with completion of the roundabout slated for next week, he feels their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
However, Keith Boddy, TIR’s senior Highway Design engineer said officials do listen to concerns raised with the department’s design team and he doesn’t believe the roundabout will pose as great a problem as anticipated, once construction is complete.
“We’re pretty confident that the trucks are going to get through there just fine,” he said.
Department crews have constructed more than 30 roundabouts across the province and “we’ve learned a lot from the first 30,” he said.
Boddy said the roundabout in Masstown was designed to accommodate up to an average-sized, 53-ft. tractor-trailer with sleeper cab. And while it appears narrow at the moment, truckers will definitely notice a difference when it is completely paved, he said.
The curbs are designed to help slow traffic as it moves through the roundabout but they will not be as deep when the construction is complete, he said. The curbs will also have a lip added which will allow truck tires to ride up over them without causing damage.
After meeting with the truckers last week, Boddy said the design engineers did make some changes to the roundabout that are in the process of being done.
“When we know there are oversized loads coming, what we do is we allow for them to ride over the curb and onto what we sort of call a turf stone area, or an overrun area,” he said. “What that is, it gives them a place to kind of overrun with the back of their trailers as they drag through. So it’s something that’s been addressed.”
He suggested truckers try to be patient through the construction process and if there are still issues when the roundabout is completed, transportation officials have committed to hearing their concerns.
“We’re fairly comfortable it’s drivable and it’s just a matter of wait and see, I guess.”