Structural deterioration and increased commercial traffic factor into Council's recent decision to reduce the load carrying capacity of the aging Smith Bridge. This stop-gap measure has been introduced to help prolong the bridge's service life by preventing damage and circumventing potential failures.
Proactive Measures to Prolong the Life of the Smith Bridge
As part of its effort to prolong the life of the Smith Bridge, MD Council has enacted weight restrictions for certain vehicle types. Signage has been installed along 9th Street and the Old Smith Highway indicating the maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) allowed per truck type.
Crossing the Smith Bridge in a vehicle that exceeds these weight limits can damage both the bridge and your vehicle, meaning you or other bridge users may not be able to cross safely. If your vehicle damages a bridge, you may be held liable for the cost of repairs.
Any bridge that that cannot safely support all legal vehicles must be weight restricted. The new weight restriction signage displays the maximum vehicle weights the Smith Bridge can safely support.
If the Smith Bridge factors into your travel route, you should review this page to familiarize yourself with the new weight restrictions — whether you drive a Civic or a cement truck.
Understanding the posted weight limits
It is your responsibility as a driver to know your vehicle and load; understand posted signage; and obey the weight limits. Here's a primer on what the limits mean.
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IF YOUR VEHICLE AND LOAD EXCEED THE POSTED CAPACITIES:
Take an alternate route that can legally and safely carry your vehicle;
Reduce your load and make multiple trips; or
Contact the Transportation team to see if accommodations can be made to allow you to cross safely
What vehicles are affected by the weight restrictions?
As the weight restrictions come into play, residents have asked whether the Smith Bridge is safe for the travelling public. Explore the vehicle types and associated average weights below and breathe easier about your daily commute.
Vehicle types routinely used by the travelling public fall well below the weight restrictions.
Even larger vehicles in the community fall below the new weight limitations.
Heavy commercial vehicles must be mindful of height, weight and breadth limitations.
Answers to common questions about the bridge restrictions
The application of dust control agents shall be carried out by the MD of Lesser Slave River at no charge on municipal roads as follows:
Hazardous school bus stops due to poor alignments
Extensive residential developed areas
Residences located within 100 metres of local roads on which traffic flows in excess of 150 vehicles daily
Dust control agents are normally applied after the lifting of spring road bans, and as equipment and materials become available.
The MD is lobbying the Government of Alberta to prioritize the required funding to rebuild the Smith Bridge. Additionally, the MD is engaging provincial decision-makers to support interim work to extend the bridge's operable lifespan.
A debris-created undercurrent in the Athabasca River has badly eroded ground cover for a support pier (a condition called pier scour). By remedying the pier scour before spring 2023, the MD can protect the bridge against the next flood event.
In the nrear term, the MD also wants to address damage to the bridge truss in several areas.
The MD is relying largely on driver compliance. This being said, the Smith Bridge is being monitored more closely — both electronically and by enforcement personnel. Any issues with non-compliance with the new weight restrictions will be addressed accordingly.
The MD has developed a tool to determine wear and tear if loads exceed those currently posted. You may contact the Transportation department at 780.849.4888 ext. 233 to enquire about a one-time permit.
Please note that nt every request will be allowed. Where loads are divisible, they will not be permitted (i.e.: gravel, hay, livestock feed) but in cases where this is impossible, (i.e. equipment) an exception may be granted.