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Pembina Hills asks province to review commercial trucks’ passage through school zones

Letter to transportation minister spurred by Nov. 2 accident involving logging truck and school bus
Nov. 2 Collision 1 (VM)
While a third log lays on the ground, two logs jut from the side of the Pembina Hills school bus that was involved in an accident with a logging truck at 8:35 a.m. on Nov. 2 at the intersection of Highways 18 and 33 in Barrhead. While no one was injured, this incident could have been far more serious, which is why Pembina Hills is requesting the province establish a resolution preventing commercial transportation passing through school zones in the early morning hours and late afternoon hours when students are either coming to or leaving school.

The Pembina Hills School Division has submitted a letter to the Alberta Minister of Transportation requesting a review of commercial transportation practices within the limits of rural communities and even a possible restriction on such vehicles travelling through school zones during the start and end of each school day. 

The letter, which is signed by Supt. Michael Borgfjord and is addressed to transportation minister Rajan Sawhney, was prompted by the accident involving a logging truck and a Pembina Hills school bus at the intersection of Highways 18 and 33 in Barrhead on Nov. 2. 

At roughly 8:35 a.m., several of the logs being hauled by the truck slid or broke off and became embedded in the side of the Pembina Hills school bus, which was carrying students at the time. 

“While the incident caused only minor physical injuries to students and the driver, the emotional impacts may last much longer,” Borgfjord states in the letter. 

“We trust that your office was made aware of this incident and the potential it had for a much more catastrophic outcome.” 

Incidentally, Pembina Hills director of transportation Shantelle Haitel confirmed last week that the school bus was basically a write-off as the result of the damage it incurred and was no longer on the road. 

The letter requests that the province conduct a review of the current commercial transportation practices within the limits of rural communities, specifically during the morning and afternoon hours when students are arriving at or leaving school. 

“This will have an impact on students who are being transported by bus or their parents, as well as those who are walking to and from school,” Borgfjord writes. 

The superintendent also requests a resolution restricting commercial transport vehicles, including logging trucks, from travelling through school zones between the hours of 8 to 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. 

 In the Nov. 9 edition of the Town & Country This Week, Sawhney stated that the circumstances of the Nov. 2 accident would not prompt a review by the province of the hauling route that the logging truck was following. 

She pointed out that infrastructure failure was not a factor in this incident and the intersection in question is generally not known for experiencing many accidents. 

As well, the RCMP investigation determined that the logging truck had exceeded its legal load dimensions, which was a “primary causal factor” in the accident, and the driver has been charged accordingly under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act.

Kevin Berger,