The rubber will hit the road for the Shuswap’s new highways maintenance contractor in April.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. will begin providing road maintenance service for provincial roadways for several communities in the Okanagan-Shuswap beginning April 1. This includes service in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Sicamous.
Acciona was also awarded the contract for highway maintenance in the South Okanagan, including Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. That work begins May 1.
Both contracts were awarded through an open bidding process and come with a 10-year term, along with an optional five-year extension.
The ministry says the new maintenance contracts for all service areas come higher standards and a more proactive approach when severe weather occurs. Some of the biggest improvements listed by the ministry include: Some of the biggest improvements over the most recent contracts listed by the ministry include:
• Increased communication with the public concerning rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on B.C. roads;
• Returning Winter Class A highways, such as Highway 1 and 97, 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.);
• Increasing patrol frequency to 90 minutes on a Class A highway during a winter storm. (The previous standard was four hours.);
• When a weather event is forecasted to occur, increase the patrol frequency to four hours. (The previous standard was 24 hours.);
• Contractors will be required to spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event.
The ministry says Acciona, a conglomerate based in Spain, has prior experience managing road operations and maintenance in Canada, including the Autoroute 30 in Quebec and the South East Stoney Trail in Alberta.
Acciona replaces JPW Road and Bridge Inc as the highways maintenance contractor for the region.
Highway and road maintenance was sharply criticized by residents and politicians in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District 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.