New maintenance contracts have been awarded for service areas 17 and 18 in the Cariboo to help improve standards and better highway conditions year round.
The contract for Service area 17, Central Cariboo, that provides maintenance on provincial roadways for several communities, including Williams Lake and Bella Coola, was awarded to Dawson Road Maintenance.
“We had the contract for the last term as well,” said Robert Koopmans, director of communications for Dawson Road Maintenance.
“We used to be Interior Roads and became Dawson Road Maintenance earlier this spring. We changed our name because of the fact we have acquired additional service areas in other parts of B.C. as well, so we’ve had the contract in the area for the last ten years and we’re looking forward to continuing the work to keeping the roads safe.”
Service area 18, Northern Cariboo, which includes provincial road maintenance for Quesnel, Nazko and surrounding communities, went to the current contractor Emcon Services Inc.
Both have a 10-year term and an optional five-year extension. They are set to begin July 1st the day after the existing contracts expire.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said the new maintenance contracts for all service areas require higher standards and a more proactive approach when a severe weather event occurs.
“They require in some cases that roads be cleared faster than they have been in the past, so we are well aware of those standards,” Koopmans said.
“We got our pencils and we worked the numbers hard and we came up with operational plans that we feel will be able to meet those standards in the typical weather conditions that Interior residents can expect. So that’s really about us watching weather forecasts carefully, knowing when and how to play equipment in advance of storms, applying different types of de-icing chemicals that are available to date in advance to storms, and it’s really just being aware of what’s happening on the ground and in the air and responding accordingly.”
Some of the biggest improvements over the most recent contracts include:
- Increased communication with the public about rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on B.C. roads.
- Return Winter Class A highways to bare pavement within 24 hours of a winter weather event ending at pavement temperatures of -9 C or warmer, when de-icing chemical use is safe and effective. The previous standard was 48 hours.
- Increase patrol frequency to 90 minutes on a Class A highway, like Highway 97, during a winter storm. The previous standard was four hours.
- When a weather event is forecasted, increase the patrol frequency to four hours. The previous standard was 24 hours.
- Under the new agreement, contractors will be required to be more proactive prior to a winter weather event, and to spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event.