NANAIMO — A new provincial contract for road maintenance in the mid-island region calls for much higher standards during extreme weather events.
The province awarded a 10-year, roughly $150-million contract to Mainroad Mid-Island for maintenance work on provincial roadways in Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni. The roadways include Hwy. 19, the Old Island Hwy. and Hwy. 4.
The new contract replaces one in effect with Emcon Services since 2003 and brings with it significantly enhanced standards for road clearing and maintenance.
Among the new standards, Mainroad must return Hwy. 19 to bare pavement with 24-hours of a severe weather event. Previously the standard was 48 hours.
The new contract also called for increased communication with drivers about changing road conditions during weather events and higher patrol frequency in anticipation of storms.
Ian Pilkington, project director for the province, said the new standards are based on feedback from the public calling for increased service, especially in winter.
“There are a lot of things out there that allow a contractor to get to bare pavement quicker so we’ve now recognized these changes should be incorporated in our standards. It is a significant but achievable change.”
Under the new agreement, there will be expanded sweeping along cycling routes, something Pilkington said is recognition of more people using bikes as a mode of transportation and an increase in cycling tourism.
“People like to travel up-and-down the island…It’s something we want to encourage but recognizing to provide safety for those people, sweeping of the shoulder is a big contributor to that. We’ve added in extra funding for extra sweeping.”
The new contract with Mainroad takes effect on Sept. 1. Mainroad is not responsible for clearing or work on City of Nanaimo roads.