Service area information, highway maintenance contract specifications, weather forecasting and where to source road and weather information were the topics of a media advisory session hosted by Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting on Friday.
From last winter, which saw unprecedented snow fall levels, Mainroad and the BC Ministry of Transportation aim to bring lessons learned into the upcoming season and want to remain as transparent and accessible as possible to the public.
“I think [the high snowfall] made it hard for everybody,” said Mainroad General Manager Al Sander. “And I think that the operators are far more familiar with the new standards and what the expectations are. We changed some of our training metrics this year and that continues so hopefully that’ll make things easier for everybody.”
In order to operate more efficiently this upcoming winter, Mainroad has invested in new, modernized snow removal equipment including 20 tandem-axle, six tri-axle and six single-axle plows — all equipped with wing lows supplemented by one additional new tried wing truck with de-icing spray equipment.
“It’s not a difference in number of trucks it’s a difference in capacity,” said Sander. “And now that all the tri-axles obviously they can take a bigger load of sand or salt with them which means they can stay out on the road longer and it reduces reload times and dead time.
“You get more hours of work. Some of the smaller single-axles that we didn’t get till later are equipped with wings now so when we’re working on side roads and smaller communities you can get more done in the same amount of time and hopefully with the new fleet you have better reliability.”
After late delivery on some equipment and the loss of one truck last year, they are now back to their full fleet.
“So now hopefully we’re better able to deliver the contract as the way it was bid and the way it was let out and make better use of the equipment the way it was designed,” said Sander.
“It’s a constant field of change and it’s trying to stay ahead of what the curve is and figuring out and using some of the trial and error things that other jurisdictions have made so you don’t make the same mistakes.”
In addition to the new machinery, they are also equipping all their plows with an automated vehicle location system that uses GPS to track plow locations to ensure a more efficient deployment of their fleet. The are also increasing the use of liquid ant-icing chemicals by 250 per cent.
“As far as our liquid goes: new pumps, new flow metres for loading so we have better accuracy for that and make it easier for all the guys so we have consistency and that’s the biggest thing with liquid is consistency,” said Sander.
They will also implement a Snow Desk this year that will function as a single point of contact that is available at all times during inclement weather that has authority to deploy the fleet’s equipment to where it is needed the most.
In addition to the new implementations, they are also currently promoting a 24-hour hotline with weather and road reporters on their Facebook page called Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting as well as their website www.shiftintowinter.ca which has resources and advice for safe driving practises in the winter.
Mainroad is responsible for the maintenance of BC’s provincial highways and roads between Brisco (north), Goatfel (west), Alberta (east) and the US border (south) and operate a fleet of up to 40 pieces of snow removal equipment in that service area.
They will be hosting three pre-winter public information meetings with the Cranbrook date on Wednesday, November 15 at 1:30 at Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort.