When crane and bridge meet: Experts weigh in on latest Winnipeg bridge collision

An accident on a busy Winnipeg road on Tuesday afternoon echoed the likes of similar incidents in other provinces.

A truck carrying a crane collided with the Empress Street overpass rail bridge on Portage Avenue. The reason behind the collision remains unclear and while no one was seriously injured, traffic delays caused major inconveniences to motorists.

Just recently the city was the centre of a train derailment at another overpass on McPhillips Street. The accident on April 21 didn’t injure anyone but did cause further traffic delays.

In commenting about the accident on Portage, Aaron Dolyniuk, executive director with the Manitoba Trucking Association, said such things can be caused by human error.

He said the driver should’ve known better — that a truck with a load that tall shouldn’t have gone down that road.

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“The truck has to operate under a special operating permit, which regulates where it can go and what bridges it will fit under,” said Dolyniuk.

“Any driver that operates an open deck truck in Manitoba legally has to measure and list the width and height of that load on their daily trip inspection.”

Read more: Truck slams into overpass near Montreal, spills cargo across highway

The Empress bridge did not sustain any structural damage, according to CP Rail. Dolyniuk said that the driver would be liable for any damages incurred.

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Civil engineering expert and professor at the University of Manitoba, Ahmed Shalaby, said the bridge would have been checked extensively. Characterizing it as an aging infrastructure, he said the bridge would need regular attention.

The life expectancy of such a bridge, he noted, is about 75 years.

“Normally, the inspections are done every year. They may not be detailed inspections, but there are inspections every year,” said Shalaby. “When they identify areas of concern, there could be more inspections done.”

Read more: B.C. trucking company involved in multiple highway overpass strikes denies safety concerns

Winnipeg’s transportation management centre processes and manages traffic incidents. In an emailed statement on May 3, public works coordinator Ken Allen said the centre works with the police service to coordinate road closures in the event of a collision.

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“(The centre) monitors all signalized intersections across the city and can remotely respond in real-time to traffic signal malfunctions and unexpected traffic incidents to improve traffic flow,” said Shalaby.

In a similar incident, a truck carrying canola seeds slammed into an overpass in Quebec in 2018. In British Columbia, such incidents aren’t uncommon. Fifteen overpass hits have been reported between December 2021 and March 2023 in the province.

Click to play video: 'Construction crane being transported on trailer collides with rail bridge on Portage Avenue'

Construction crane being transported on trailer collides with rail bridge on Portage Avenue

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