A pickup truck passes a snowplow on the right as two plows work in tandem on a B.C. highway. Drivers are advised to avoid this dangerous move and wait until plows find a safe place to pull over. (Ministry of Transportation)

B.C. raising highway maintenance standards for winter driving

Major routes to be ‘bare pavement’ 24 hours after snowfall

The B.C. government is renewing most of its 28 regional highway maintenance contracts this year, increasing plowing and patrolling standards for winter storms.

The transportation ministry’s new contracts call for Class A highways to be returned to “bare pavement” condition within 24 hours of a winter storm, when the temperature is -9 C or warmer. The previous standard for those conditions is 48 hours.

The new contracts, for 10 years with an option for a five-year extension, also call for more frequent patrols of each service area and communication with the public about fast-changing road conditions during severe weather. For Class A highways, patrols are to be done every 90 minutes during storms, from the previous standard of four hours.

When storms are forecast, patrols are to be done every four hours, rather than every 24 hours.

The ministry feeds highway condition information into its DriveBC website and has begun installing variable speed limit signs on major routes like the Coquihalla Highway that are subject to severe winter storms.

RELATED: New Okanagan contractor cleaning up winter heavy sand load

RELATED: Highway rest stop washrooms in bad shape, toilet paper out

There are 28 maintenance contract regions around the province, and most contracts to be awarded with the new standards by the end of 2019. One of the most remote regions, Stikine northwest to Dease Lake and Atlin, has been awarded to the existing contractor, Lakes District Maintenance Inc., with the new contract effective Aug. 1.

The contract for Chetwynd, Dawson Creek and Tumbler Ridge in northeastern B.C. has been awarded to Argo Road Maintenance, which is also responsible for maintaining provincial highways in the Thompson region.

B.C. spends about $400 million per year to private contractors for highway maintenance, covering 47,000 km of highway and 2,800 bridges. Their crews apply 750,000 tonnes of winter abrasives and 100,000 tonnes of salt each year.

The ministry has an online satisfaction survey where B.C. residents can select their home region and rate performance of summer and winter maintenance, line markings, traffic management in construction zones, inland ferries, commercial vehicle enforcement and DriveBC information.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

RCMP investigating assault on a 17-year-old in Vanderhoof

Vanderhoof RCMP are seeking witnesses to an assault that occurred in the… Continue reading

Former Burns Lake mayor gets two years for sexual assaults against minors

Banned from taking work involving young people for five years

Prince Rupert man who killed foster parents in 2017 receives three-year sentence

A Prince Rupert man convicted in the deaths of his foster parents… Continue reading

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read