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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fundraiser being held for family of Mark Olson

Olson died suddenly on March 29

Cowichan Mountie cleared of wrongdoing after woman’s arm broken during arrest

Police were called around 10 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2019 to remove a “severely intoxicated” woman

CVRD calls for continued COVID-19 vigilance, asks visitors not to come to Valley

With warmer weather, Easter holidays, district fears residents may become lax

Weather forecast for the Cowichan Valley sunny and mid-teens

Lots of sun expected over next two weeks

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

VIDEO: More than 85 people displaced by Campbell River apartment fire

Traffic is being diverted around Dogwood Street and 9th Avenue

Most Read