New Brunswick

Trans-Canada closure could cause delays, says trucking industry

Closure of the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton will mean longer trip for drivers and may delay shipments, depending on how long the barricades are up.

Detour away from high St. John River adds additional 40 minutes to drive from Fredericton to Moncton

A portion of the Trans-Canada Highway was closed Thursday evening a 7 p.m. Traffic must now take Route 7 and Route 1 to get between Fredericton and Moncton. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Closure of the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton will mean longer trip for drivers and may delay shipments,  depending on how long the barricades are up.

Although the flooding problem is by the low-lying Grand Lake Meadows, the detour covers a much longer section —  from Oromocto, southeast of Fredericton, to River Glade, west of Moncton. 

The detour through Saint John adds 72 kilometres and 40 minutes of driving time for people travelling between Fredericton and Moncton.

Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, said the situation isn't ideal, but truckers in the region are used to delays, including those caused by snow or restrictions on the Confederation Bridge.

"We're used to it to some extent, but again it's still a big surprise," said Picard.

"It looks like it's going to be longer than a few days. Therefore, we need to prepare for the worst."

'Unprecedented' flooding

The St. John River has been lapping onto highway lanes through the meadows near Jemseg, and officials don't know how long the closure will last.

Norman Clouston of MRDC, which maintains the highway from Moncton to Longs Creek, said that to the best of his knowledge, the surface was built one metre higher than the former Trans-Canada, now Route 105, to help avoid flooding.

"Unfortunately, the flood event we're seeing here in 2018 is unprecedented," said Clouston, the general manager of the company.

"These water levels are exceeding, more or less, expectations from several years ago."

Picard is just thankful the closure happened to coincide with the weekend, when there is less traffic, and is happy truckers will still be able to make deliveries.

"At least we have an option," said Picard.

"That's the positive side. … There's a detour, but deliveries are still going to get done."

Possible delays

Picard said it will take longer to make deliveries, since truckers will have a longer distance to drive.

And truckers can only be on the road for so long, which may impact the normal order of things, he warned.

"Maybe they did two loads in a certain lane through the normal Trans-Canada Highway, but with the detour they might only have time to do one."

Picard said he thinks the effect on consumers will be minimal, but drivers on the Trans-Canada can help truckers in the days to come.

"There's going to be a lot of trucks on the roads, so be patient," said Picard.

"Keep good distance behind the trailers and minimize the issues."

With files from Information Morning Moncton and Fredericton