Northern Ontario trucking company asks for Hwy 11 maintenance review

A trucking company based in northern Ontario is calling on the provincial government to review winter maintenance standards for Highway 11.
It's been one year since two transports collided on Highway 11, killing Dan Moreau. (Ontario Provincial Police)

A trucking company based in northern Ontario is calling on the provincial government to review winter maintenance standards for Highway 11.

Matt Duke with Grant's Transport in New Liskeard, says it's been one year since one of his employees was killed in a crash near Marten River. He says there had been a bit of snowfall the night before the crash happened.

During the day, Duke says he started getting text messages that the highway was closed. He says he started to worry when he heard from all but one driver.

"Somebody rushed into my office and showed me their phone and there was a picture from the back and you could clearly see our trucking logo," he said.

Matt Duke works with Grant's Transport out of Temiskaming Shores. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

"We knew that this was serious because there was a big fireball."

Duke says he contacted the owners of the company and went to the scene of the crash.

"We knew right away that this was a fatal collision," he said.

"It was horrendous. The transport truck itself, there was nothing left of it other than a frame."

Not assigning blame

Dan Moreau, who had been a trucker for 25 years, was killed in the crash. The driver of the other vehicle survived.

Dan Moreau of Grant's Transport was killed in a crash on Highway 11 in 2016. (Supplied/obittree.com)

"If you could have an exemplary employee, it would be Dan," he said. "[His] paperwork was immaculate, his truck was immaculate, his pre trip inspections were top notch. The guy could have been the poster child for the best driver you could have ever have wanted."

Duke says the contractor hired to maintain that section of highway had met the minimum standards outlined by the province.

He says he'd like the province to look at what Highway 11 is today compared to when it was classified.

"You can just go back and take a look at the numbers," he said.

"If we've shut the highway down x amount of times over the course of a five month period during our winter period, what's the economic impact of that? What's the impact for employers trying to keep drivers driving?"

Duke says truckers and their families need to discuss the issue with with their MPPs so the topic can be discussed at Queen's Park.

"I don't want to say that this company or that company isn't doing their job," he said.

"What I'm saying is if they're meeting the standard, let's review the standard."

Type of highway and traffic considered

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation says Ontario has some of the safest roads in North America. The statement adds the province is committed to keeping Ontario's highways as safe as possible during winter road conditions.

"How often we plow and salt, and how long it takes to restore the highway surface to normal conditions, depends on the type of highway and traffic volumes," Bob Nichols with the ministry said.

"The more traffic, the higher the frequency of plowing and salting, and the faster the highway surface is restored to normal conditions. It may take longer to fully service turning lanes, shoulders and ramps."

Nichols goes on to say extra time may be required to clear the highway in severe weather.

"Ontario's service commitment is to meet its bare pavement standard 90 per cent of the time. This province-wide goal has been achieved since the service standard was implemented in 2003," he said.

"We audit contractors' operations to ensure that they have responded quickly, used equipment appropriately during the storm and restored roads to bare pavement after the storm, as required by our standards."

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