Spring breakup begins now, as Highways removes winter weights in southern Sask.

·2 min read

Regina– Usually one can bank on spring breakup being announced around March 15, give or take, but with warm weather in the forecast for southern Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Highways announced on March 1 that winter weights were coming off for highways in southern Saskatchewan.

Effective March 1, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., winter weight designations for some highways in southern Saskatchewan were removed. Allowable weights will return to normal regulation weights on these 52 specific roads in 101 rural municipalities, the ministry said in a release.

Winter weights typically run from about November to March. Once the road bed freezes it can withstand heavier truck loads without being damaged. This allows shippers to carry more weight during the winter months. Ministry of Highways staff carefully monitor conditions to ensure this return to regulation weight happens at the appropriate time and highways are protected from potential damage.

As an example of the warm weather expected, Estevan’s forecast highs according to Environment Canada for the week are 5 C on Monday, March 1, 5 C again on Tuesday, 7 C on Wednesday, 10 C on Thursday, 11 C on Friday and 15 C on Saturday. Regina’s forecast is similar to Estevan’s, and Swift Current’s goes even higher, with a forecast high of 19 on Saturday, March 6.

The early onset of spring breakup will have a significant impact on Saskatchewan’s winter oil drilling season, which usually starts to shut down the second week of March. As it stands now, drilling activity for this winter is already down substantially, according to Rig Locator. On March 1 there were 24 active drilling rigs in Saskatchewan, compared to 63 on the same day in 2020 and 49 in 2019.

To check which highways are impacted by weight restrictions, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/truckingweights.

Information about winter weight orders is updated twice weekly, with new information published on Tuesday and Fridays.

To view the interactive map showing winter weight restrictions and spring road bans, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/highwayhotline and scroll down to restrictions.

Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury