The familiar JPW Road and Bridge Inc. snow plows and graders which clear snow from highways and rural roads in the Okanagan-Shuswap will be replaced, as a new company has been awarded the contract for highway maintenance.
Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. received the contract following an open request for proposals. The infrastructure maintenance firm is a subsidiary of Acciona, a large multinational corporation based in Spain, whose Canadian projects include construction work on the Site C Dam.
The service area the new contractor will cover stretches from Monte Creek in the west to Craigellachie in the east and from the Fintry area in the south to well north of Seymour Arm.
Acciona’s contract goes into effect on April 1, 2019.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), Acciona and the recipients of the 25 other maintenance contracts around the province tendered in 2018 and 2019 will be held to a higher standard than their predecessors where snow clearance is concerned.
Road maintenance contractors will be required to communicate with the public more about rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on the roads they maintain. Under the new contract, major highways will have to be restored to bare pavement within 24 hours of a winter weather event when the pavement temperature remains warm enough to safely and effectively use de-icing chemicals. The standard under the current contract was 48 hours.
Patrol frequency on major highways will be increased to 90 minutes on major highways during a winter storm; the previous standard was four hours.
When a winter weather event is forecast, the patrol frequency will be increased to four hours down from 24 hours.
Road clearing was sharply criticized by residents and politicians in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) at the end of last winter. In response to complaints from the public, the CSRD board submitted a resolution to the Southern Interior Local Government Association stating that deteriorating road maintenance was creating a public safety issue by making it difficult for emergency vehicles to access rural roads and creating unsafe conditions for motorists and pedestrians.