After a long, brutal winter across much of British Columbia, the provincial government has decided to introduce measures designed to improve winter highway safety.
Transportation minister Claire Trevena says the changes include stricter commercial vehicle chain-up requirements, extending winter tire and chain regulations on select highways, and enhanced road maintenance contractor monitoring and auditing, including 24/7 compliance checks during winter storms.
The transportation ministry says new contracts with road maintenance operators will require a more proactive approach and more stringent standards:
–On Class A highways, a return to bare pavement within 24 hours of a winter weather event ending (old standard was 48 hours) at temperatures warmer than -9 C, when de-icing chemical use is effective.
–An increase in patrol frequency to 90 minutes on a Class A highway like Highway 16 during a winter storm (old standard was four hours).
–When a weather event is forecasted to occur, an increase in patrol frequency to 4 hours in anticipation of the weather event coming (old standard was 24 hours)
–A contractor requirement to use remote weather information systems to forecast when a weather event will occur, and to spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event.
The Highway 16 corridor from Prince Rupert to Prince George and the entire length of the Highway 97 corridor are Winter Class A highways.
The transportation ministry expects the changes to be in place by the time the snow flies next winter,
The government says it will sit down with the commercial trucking industry and other stakeholders over the coming months on how the changes will be rolled out.