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

Stolen sax, sheet music, impacts Trail big-band and after school band

Anyone with information is urged to call the Trail RCMP detachment at 250.364.2566

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Police seek witnesses to fatal weekend accident

Wayne Kernachan was struck by a vehicle while responding to an accident

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

EDITORIAL: Federal NDP challenges evident on Kootenay campaign trip

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tours the Kootenays in support of local MPs, proportional representation

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read