Winter highway conditions in northwest B.C. (Shannon Lough / Black Press)

Winter road maintenance standards boosted

Quicker response times to be implemented

It’s going to be another year before new standards announced last week by the transportation ministry calling for increased winter road maintenance are put into place for the majority of northwestern B.C. highways.

That’s because requirements calling for quicker response times and more intense snow clearing will be included only when new maintenance contracts are negotiated.

Drivers in the Kitimat area using Hwy37 South and those in Terrace area on sections of Hwy16 both east and west of the city won’t experience those new standards until the winter of 2019-2020 because the current contract only expires next March 31.

It’ll be much the same for drivers in the Smithers and Hazelton areas using Hwy16 and north up Hwy37 North because the current contract for that area doesn’t expire until next Sept. 30. As well, the current contract for the far northern stretch of Hwy37 North doesn’t expire until next July 31.

Drivers in the Prince Rupert area and for a portion of Hwy16 stretching east toward Terrace until the boundary where the Terrace area maintenance contractor takes over will, however, experience those new standards sooner because the current contract there expires Sept. 30 of this year.

Drivers in the Houston and Burns Lake will also experience the new standards this next winter because the current contract there expires Aug. 31 of this year.

“The new maintenance contracts, which will ensure a more proactive approach to winter maintenance and quicker return to bare pavement after a weather event, will require new or modified equipment and a significant change to an existing contract,” explained the transportation ministry in a statement.

“This would lead to substantial increased costs to the ministry, so there will not be a requirement for contractors to change practices while still executing existing contracts,” the statement continued.

As current contracts approach their expiry dates, the transportation ministry will set into place an open bidding process for interested companies.

The new standards for the new contracts call for a return to bare pavement within 24 hours of a snowfall ending for Class A highways, a designation that applies to Hwy16 and Hwy37 South to Kitimat, when the temperature is warmer than -9C and when using a de-icing chemical is effective.

The current standard is a return to bare pavement within 48 hours.

And during a storm, the frequency of maintenance vehicles patrolling highways is to be 90 minutes compared to the current requirement of four hours.

The frequency of patrols is to increase to four hours compared to the current 24 hours when a storm is forecasted to occur.

Contractors will also have to use remote weather information systems to forecast weather events and then spread anti-icing chemicals before the weather turns bad.

The transportation ministry also hopes to reduce the number of cracked and damaged windshields by reducing the size of abrasive material spread on roads from the current 12.5-millimetre size standard to 9.5 millimetres.

Winter tire and chain requirements on some provincial highway sections in high snowfall areas will be extended from Oct. 1 to April 30 compared to the current date of March 31.

The province has divided highway and bridge maintenance into 28 contract areas. These new standards will eventually apply to 26 contract areas. The two remaining areas have already had new contracts negotiated reflecting the increased standards.

Just Posted

Block party at Northern View Cannery Road Race

Terrace family top the podium in each of their racing categories

Stolen property recovered

Police briefs from Sept. 9-11

Terrace couple wins Lotto Max

Money to be put towards retirement and motorcycle trip

Skeena Paddle Club awarded $2K grant for youth program

Sessions teach residents how to canoe, kayak

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

The Northern View announces inaugural Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

More than $7,000 up for grabs for biggest legal salmon and halibut

‘This is where the movement is going to start’: Jessica Patrick remembered at memorial march

The march commemorates the one-year anniversary of the 18-year-old’s unsolved death

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Most Read