It might be fall now, but the area’s new highway maintenance contractor is already preparing for winter.
Mainroad North Island Contracting used to provide maintenance for Service Area 3, or the north part of Vancouver Island, including Campbell River, and once again took over the contract, as of Sept. 1.
“We’re happy to be back,” said general manager Rick Gill.
Recently, Gill and operations manager Leon Bohmer spoke at a media event from the headquarters and works yard for Service Area 3 in Cumberland, touching on everything from new equipment to better communications with the public to making sure area roads are ready for winter.
Gill discussed one attachment, an RPM snow blower, that will be used to remove snow more effectively on the road to Mount Washington by road widening and throwing the snow back to the side after the plow trucks have been through the area.
“It’s a pretty significant piece,” he said.
“We wanted to be overpowered versus under-powered,” Bohmer added.
At the event, they also showed an all-wheel drive, single-axle truck that is less likely to require chain-ups, which means a quicker response time to changing weather conditions.
“We want to be proactive and be out on the road as fast as we can,” Gill said.
The Mainroad fleet includes more than 30 pieces of plowing equipment. It has three tri-axle trucks that can each carry up to 20,000 litres of brine that can cover long stretches of highway.
“We don’t have to continually be in the yard to re-load,” he added.
The new trucks have almost twice the carrying capacity of the double-axle trucks. This is especially important for the contractor when it comes to getting out to prepare road surfaces by putting down anti-icing in advance of expected winter weather.
All of the equipment is aimed around meeting the new specifications set out by the province’s Ministry of Highway and Infrastructure.
“For instance, the time frame to eliminate compact snow from the freeway will now be 24 hours,” Bohmer said. “In the past, the standards were 48 hours…We have an obligation to get it back down to bare and wet within 24 hours…We’re here to meet all the ministry specs.”
Mainroad is also using new state-of-the-art weather systems to get advance notice about extreme weather such as snow or high winds. The company is also using different social media sites, including specific Facebook and Twitter accounts for the North Island division, to get information out to the public about changing driving conditions. As well, it holds public events for its Shift into Winter campaign aimed at getting drivers ready for winter.
Mainroad North Island has the contract for 10 years and will oversee an area with four numbered routes: Highway 19 and Highway 19A that connect the North Island Service Area with the Mid-Island Service Area 2 and at Cook Creek, Highway 28 to Gold River, and Highway 30 to Port Alice.
The service area includes Campbell River, as well as the Comox Valley, Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Port Alice, Alert Bay, Sayward, Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos, as well as Quadra Island, Cortes Island, Denman Island and Hornby Island.