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Winter is coming: What to expect from the highway contractor

The East Kootenay highway contractor is Mainroad
Highway contractor Mainroad takes care of a 3,673 kilometres long stretch of highway and secondary roads in the East Kootenay. Bulletin file.

We’ve had a long and beautiful fall weather-wise, but all good things come to an end. Weather forecasts are for a drop in temperatures and likely precipitation this weekend. Snow is on the way in the not too distant future.

Snowplowing on East Kootenay highways is the responsibility of the contractor Mainroad, who work to goals set by the Ministry of Transportation. The East Kootenay service area is 3,673 kilometres long, stretching from Radium in the north to the Alberta border in the east, the U.S. border in the south and Goatfel in the west. Mainroad has service yards in Cranbrook, Fairmont, Sparwood, Elko and Yahk.

Just like municipal snow-clearing, Mainroad has priority routes. B.C. highways are classified as A, B,C, D and E.

For instance, Hwy 3 from Cranbrook to the Alberta border is classed as an A route. An example of a B route would be Hwy 93/95 from Cranbrook to Canal Flats. C routes would include roads that are not main highways but are school bus routes. D and E are roads generally less travelled.

A highway with an A classification will only be allowed to accumulate 4 cm snow during a weather event, while an E can accumulate up to 25 cm.

During a large storm, it is not uncommon to see higher-priority routes plowed several times before less travelled routes are plowed at all.

Highways are completed in a priority sequence with snow removal beginning on higher classification main highways.

Rural side roads are completed once snow removal is completed on main

highways or as required to remain within the provincial standard for maximum accumulation.

If you’re wondering why it’s taking a while to get a plow along your road this winter, you can always give Mainroad a call but they ask that you be patient. The 24 hour hotline is 1-800-665-4929.

During a storm event, Mainroad crews will be working to clear the highway surfaces as quickly as possible. When temperatures permit, they will commence anti-icing operations with the goal of getting the compact snow off service area highways and roads. On primary routes, the aim is to have bare and black conditions from the completion of the weather event as quickly as possible, however challenging weather will not always permit them to have bare and black conditions on secondary routes.

Ahead of a weather event, Mainroad releases regular road and weather updates to a contact list of local agencies, various stakeholders including the Ministry and media to help inform the public. This helps everyone understand the current conditions, expected weather and Mainroad’s response. These updates are also posted on social media.

By now, all drivers in the Kootenays should have switched over to snow tires.

READ: Winter tires must be installed by October 1, 2022

READ: Keep your snow tires on until April 30: B.C. transportation ministry

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Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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