Two Alberta farmers are calling on the province to cancel their massive traffic tickets and one wants an apology.
Last month, Alberta Sheriffs handed out several tickets to commercial truckers for exceeding weight restrictions for crossing the Vinca Bridge on Highway 38 near Redwater, Alta.
The sheriffs posted a picture of a truck they pulled over and the $15,904 ticket on their Facebook page.
That truck belonged to Chris Allam’s father, Brian.
“My dad was pretty shocked,” Chris Allam said. “Some more signage would have been very helpful.”
Allam said his father was hauling gravel to their family farm in Thorhild, taking the shortest route past Vinca Bridge. It had been a while since Brian Allam used those roads and didn’t see a warning sign until it was too late.
“Having the sign 20 feet in front of the bridge just doesn’t work,” Chris Allam said.
“You can’t back up on a highway because that would be dangerous and illegal and there was no detour route laid out, so he went across the bridge and got a ticket.”
Farmer Richard Petherbridge was also dinged for crossing the bridge with a truck full of oats.
He too said the weight restriction warning of 20 tonnes was “very inadequate.”
“I’m cruising down the road,” recounted Petherbridge, “and here’s a sign. I say, ‘What the heck is this?’ I’m looking around and let my foot off the gas — there’s no place to turn around — so what choice do I have? I continue over the bridge.
“That was a 25,492 bucks. I thought, ‘Well jeez, it’s not going to take them long to pay for this bridge.”
In the Facebook post, Alberta Sheriffs said, “The restriction is clearly marked by signs on several routes leading to the bridge.”
After Global News pressed the province about the signage in the area, Alberta Transportation spokesperson Mark Jacka said warnings to drivers were insufficient.
“After investigating the south approach to the Vinca Bridge, it was evident that the signage warning drivers of the weight restriction on the bridge was inadequately placed and did not give commercial drivers enough warning to avoid the bridge without making an unsafe highway maneuver, such as backing up on a highway,” Jacka said.
Several structural deficiencies were discovered on the Vinca Bridge on May 21, 2020, which compromised the safety of the bridge structure.
The weight restrictions were posted on June 8, 2020.
Allam and Petherbridge want their tickets tossed, but Alberta Transportation said that is a decision for Alberta Crown prosecutors.
Jason van Rassel, spokesperson for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, said sheriffs wrote six tickets for commercial trucks crossing the Vinca Bridge between May 21 and July 26, 2020.
Van Rassel said the matters are now before the courts and it would be “inappropriate to comment” on the tickets.
“I think they should be cancelled,” Petherbridge said. “And maybe a registered letter with an apology in it.
“My blood pressure goes up and how many nights didn’t I sleep with it? That’s quite a sizable fine!”
Allam wants the ticket thrown out as well.
“If there had been a sign at that last turnout saying, ‘detour this way to avoid overloading the bridge,’ we would have understood what was going on,” he said.
“The sign they have now is adequate,” said Allam. “It explains exactly where you should go to bypass the bridge that is unsafe.
“We want to follow the rules, we want to do what’s right, we want to do what’s safe.”