A new company will be clearing highways in the West Kootenay and Boundary region this winter.
The provincial government has chosen Yellowhead Road and Bridge Ltd. as the preferred proponent to take over servicing Area 9, which includes Highway 3 from Castlegar and Trail, west to the summit between Oliver and Rock Creek, and north to the Big White cutoff.
The current 15-year contract, worth $10.67 million, is held by Emcon Services. It expires on Sept. 30.
The value of the new contract isn’t stated.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure renews about 26 road maintenance contracts through a staggered bidding process. It now lists a numbered company, 1136586B.C. Ltd. as the preferred proponent for the area’s road maintenance. A MOTI official told Castlegar News the numbered company was Yellowhead Road and Bridge.
YRB currently does road maintenance in Area 10, which includes Nakusp, Nelson and Creston. The new contract for that region is still being determined.
The new contract will be for 10 years, with an option to renew for five more.
Better winter response
The ministry is also promising cleaner roads and faster response time this winter. It says the new maintenance contract “requires even higher standards and a more proactive approach when a winter weather event occurs.”
Improvements to the contract include:
• Return to bare pavement quicker after a weather event when it is -9 C or warmer. Old standard was 48 hours for a Winter Class A highway. The new standard is 24 hours.
• Maintaining the compact snow surface when it is -9 C or colder. The contractor must remove ruts and potholes in the snow surface. There was no requirement in the previous contract.
•Increased patrol frequency during a weather event from four hours for a Class A highway to 90 minutes. Also, when a weather event is forecasted to occur, patrol frequency of 24 hours was increased to four hours in anticipation of the weather event coming.
• Contractors are to use remote weather information systems to forecast when a weather event will occur, and to spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event.
Details on the new standards can be seen at www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca, under the organization titled “Ministry of Transportation – Highway Maintenance.”
The province spends about $400 million annually on road maintenance.