RCMP are looking for the driver of a truck that hit the Main Street overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway in North Vancouver on Tuesday night, causing an hours-long closure of the highway and leading to the driver's employer being stripped of its licences.
The incident is the 24th bridge strike of this kind, which the province has been tracking since 2021, a problem the industry says is a result of B.C.'s aging overpasses being too low for increased truck size and drivers taking shortcuts or failing to properly measure loads in order to keep up with demands.
DriveBC first notified commuters on X, formerly known as Twitter, of Tuesday's lane closures just after 7:15 p.m. PT on Tuesday. It said the truck had been cleared and the roadway completely reopened around 3 a.m. Wednesday. The closure led to major delays because of traffic congestion.
Mounties said they are investigating alongside the province's Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement. RCMP Const. Mansoor Sahak said the male driver of the transport truck fled the scene and his identity is unknown.
Sahak did not provide the name of the company responsible for the vehicle. The owner of the truck has been issued a violation ticket for the driver failing to remain at the scene of the incident, he said.
Government suspends company's licences
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming told reporters Wednesday that the collision was "outrageous" and that Whistler Courier has had the licences suspended for its entire fleet of 21 vehicles, pending an investigation.
"Ninety-nine per cent of the 10s of thousands of active commercial licence holders who drive trucks around the province of B.C. do so safely with the highest level of professionalism," he said. "But that leaves a tiny portion that can create havoc — who do not have the due diligence and care that they need to on the road."
Fleming added that the province has a digital tool that allows drivers to check the heights of bridges on their routes, and said it has never been easier to comply with B.C.'s road rules.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, speaking from the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference, said that the Tuesday crash was 'outrageous.' (CBC)
"We are going to do a safety audit on this company and we are going to look at all the circumstances that caused another completely unnecessary, unacceptable infrastructure strike last evening," the minister said.
"I make no apologies for stripping 21 licences from this company. If they don't get that message, then I don't know what would."
The company does not appear on the provincial list of operators involved in bridge strikes since 2021, which provides the date, location, company, cause and enforcement outcomes of previous incidents.
Under B.C.'s Commercial Transport Act, operators found in violation of rules about the size of commercial vehicles can be fined up to $500 for each offence.
Last year, the Ministry of Transportation said it would be stepping up enforcement particularly around the height of vehicles.
The ministry said commercial vehicle drivers were responsible for ensuring their loads met the conditions of their licence.
It added that it was working on enforcement actions to ensure no more collisions occurred, including higher fines, longer licence suspensions and more driver education.
Sahak said engineers deemed the overpass to be structurally safe before allowing the roadway to be reopened Wednesday, adding that there were no injuries reported in relation to the collision.
The accident came after widespread rain hit Metro Vancouver, following a stretch of relatively dry weather.