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

Youth charged in FAR equipment theft

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed to be stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort

Firefighter calendar raises $5000 for FWRC

The proceeds from Fernie Fire Rescue’s charity calendar will ensure women in… Continue reading

Fernie joins global celebration of women

SheJumps co-founder inspires at inaugural International Women’s Snow Day celebration in Fernie

Glory for Fernie Ghostriders in four-point weekend

Riders back at home on January 25-26 for games against the Kimberley Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs

Crowsnest Pass RCMP seek help locating missing man

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay voted into Baseball Hall of Fame

M’s legend Edgar Martinez, Rivera, Mussina also make the grade

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Most Read