VANDERHOOF, B.C. — Northeastern B.C. roads will soon be getting safer under new, stricter maintenance contracts.
The province announced it has finalized maintenance contracts with improved safety measures for three service areas in northern B.C. that often face harsh winter weather.
Ten-year contracts were awarded to companies for service areas 19, 22 and 23, with the option to extend the contracts for five years.
The contract for Service Area 23 was awarded to Vanderhoof-based Yellowhead Road & Bridge Ltd. The contract goes into effect this month and covers provincial roadways for Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.
Yellowhead Road & Bridge Ltd., based in Fort George, received the contract for Service Area 19 which will begin this June. It includes provincial roadways for Prince George and Mackenzie.
Service Area 22 was won by Interior Roads. This contract also begins in June and covers for provincial roadways for Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Hudson’s Hope.
The new contracts include more stringent standards for proactive maintenance to protect drivers from severe weather.
The new maintenance contracts for all service areas require higher standards and a more proactive approach when a severe weather event occurs.
Under the new contract, crews must return Class A highways to bare pavement within 24 hours of a winter weather event rather than the previously required 48 hours at temperatures of -9 C or warmer.
Crews must now increase communication with the public about rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents. Maintenance teams must now also patrol four hours in advance of a predicted weather even rather than the previously required 24 hours.
According to the province, private contractors like those awarded the most recent contracts are crucial to maintain nearly 47,000 kilometres of road and 2,800 bridges across B.C. This requires crews to use 750,000 tonnes of winter abrasives and 100,000 tonnes of salt to over 1.2 million kilometres of highways each year to keep roads safe.