A new highway maintenance contractor and higher standards will pave the way when Kootenay Boundary drivers shift into winter in a few months.
Yellowhead Road and Bridge Ltd. (YRB) Kootenay has been awarded the contract for Service Area 9 – which spans from the Okanagan to Rossland, Trail, Beaver Valley and over the Bombi into Castlegar and Pass Creek – effective Oct. 1.
(Current service provider Emcon Services Inc. holds the contract until Sept. 30)
“The RFP (Request for Proposal) for this service area recently closed, and the evaluation process has been completed,”a ministry spokesperson told the Trail Times on Wednesday.
“The preferred proponent for the next contract is Yellowhead Road and Bridge Ltd.”
Along with YRB’s new maintenance contract comes new, provincially-set, requirements that involve a higher degree of maintenance and a more proactive approach when a winter weather event hits.
Improvements to the contract include:
· Return to bare pavement quicker after a weather event when it is -9 C or warmer. The old standard was 48 hours for a Winter Class A highway, and the new standard is 24 hours. Locally, Class A roadways include Highway 22 from Trail to Castlegar and Highway 3B from Rossland to Montrose.
· 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.
YRB has been the highway maintenance contractor in Service Area 10, Central Kootenay, since 2004.
The company’s contract for that region – which contains 1,900 kilometres of road including Highway 3 from Champion Lakes through to Kitchener, east of Creston and Highway 3A from the Brilliant Dam through Nelson, Balfour and the east shore of Kootenay Lake – was extended in 2012 and will expire in May 2019.
YRB Kootenay is 100 per cent employee-owned, the company states on its website.
Twenty-six of the 28 maintenance contracts in the province will be tendered and awarded in 2018 and 2019 through a staggered open bidding process. Although Emcon Services is out for Kootenay Boundary, the company still holds Service Area 12 – Selkirk – which covers a huge area from Upper Arrow Lakes to Mica Creek and east into the Kootenays as far as Hector, near the Alberta border.
New standards and contractual requirements for the upcoming maintenance contracts, can be viewed on the Request for Proposals that are now out on the government’s procurement website, www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca, under the organization titled “Ministry of Transportation – Highway Maintenance”.