RDEK asks for review of highway maintenance

Area B director Stan Doehle wants to explore option of government taking over responsibility.

Politicians with the regional district voted to send a letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure requesting a review of highway maintenance standards during a monthly board meeting last week.

The motion to author a letter was proposed by Fernie mayor Mary Guiliano, who also included a request for a report on traffic accident data that has occurred on local highways and side roads.

While there has always been debate over the state of highway maintenance in recent years, the issue has flared up one again following a tragic fatal collision that claimed the lives of a local Cranbrook couple and an Edmonton man near Yahk a week ago.

The discussion was started by Stan Doehle, the director for Area B — the south country around Jaffray and Lake Koocanusa — who initially proposed the review of highway maintenance standards.

Doehle suggested that the board ask the province to consider bringing highway maintenance back as a government-run service as opposed to a bidding process through a contractor.

“I think its time for that review,” said Doehle. “We have a new government in place and if they can have at look at…should we put highways back under the ministry of transportation or continue with a contractor system? It’s a very good question.”

Part of the issue around highway maintenance is that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure sets the maintenance standard, which the contractor is meeting, says Doehle.

“The standards out there — the contractor is meeting the standards that are set by the ministry,” said Doehle, “but I think the big question out there is [the] Ministry of Transportation used to look after our roads and it was a government contract and I think it should go back to that way because it’s an essential service for this province.”

The maintenance contract for regional highways and side roads has been held by Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting since 2001. According to the service area, which stretches from Brisco to Goatfel to Alberta and the U.S. border, Mainroad is responsible for maintaining 3,673 lane kilometres for winter and snow removal operations, as well as other duties in the spring and summer.

The company signed a seven-year contract in 2016 to continue maintenance on regional roads, tweaking their operations to meet new specifications by investing in larger equipment, relocating maintenance yards increasing the use of anti-icing liquid chemicals and improving public communication.

Doehle argued that there was more resources and equipment when highway maintenance was provided directly by the ministry instead of through a contractor.

“The ministry standard, to start with, we had a ministry yard in Jaffray, we had one in Fernie, we had one in Sparwood. Now, we have one in Elko, so the standards are lower, there’s less people, less equipment on the road,” he said.

“In all fairness to the province, we should have a look at it and put it back to where it was, because the highways are an essential service to keep this province moving ahead and for the safety of the general public.”

Requesting the data on traffic accidents would be helpful to gauge whether incidents are increasing or decreasing, while it would be interesting to know if social media is skewing the public perception on the frequency, or lack thereof, of motor vehicle accidents, Doehle added.

Just Posted

More water education with Mainstreams

Focus on Lois Creek on Thursday, May 24

UPDATED: Hwy 3 west of Creston remains closed due to mudslide

A detour is available on the Kootenay Lake Ferry, but commuters could see wait times

Police expecting busy long weekend

RCMP will have a presence at Lake Koocanusa to be on the lookout for bad behaviour

Kimberley student raising funds for Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes

Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes is a local project that began… Continue reading

Kimberley Nordic Club concerned about state of parking lot

This parking lot is shameful, says KNC President.

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Are B.C.’s gas prices enough to keep you from travelling May long weekend?

Gas prices in B.C. ranging from 125 cents per litre to more than 150 cents

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle wed in Windsor as millions watch

Windsor sparkled on a warm spring day as tens of thousands of people jammed its quaint roads

Most Read