A Spanish conglomerate with a Canadian division was awarded two highway maintenance contracts for the Okanagan, the provincial government announced earlier this week.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Transportation said Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc., will start providing highway maintenance for the North Okanagan and Shuswap starting April 1, and the South Okanagan beginning May 1.
Acciona says on its website that it operates in infrastructure and energy sectors worldwide.
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The ministry said both contracts were awarded through an open bidding process and have a 10-year term with an optional five-year extension. Notably, the North Okanagan and Shuswap contract was announced in the fall.
The ministry also said the new contracts will provide improved standards and better highway conditions for British Columbians year-round.
The North Okanagan and Shuswap contract includes provincial road maintenance for Vernon, Salmon Arm, Sicamous and surrounding communities.
The South Okanagan contract includes provincial road maintenance from Kelowna to Osoyoos.
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According to the ministry, the new contracts have “higher standards and a more proactive approach when a severe weather event occurs.” It added some of the biggest improvements include:
- Increased public communication concerning rapidly-changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on B.C. roads.
- Returning class-A highways, such as Highway 1 and 97, to bare pavement within 24 hours of a winter weather event ending at pavement temperatures of -9 C or warmer, when de-icing chemical use is safe and effective. The previous standard was 48 hours.
- Increasing patrol frequency to 90 minutes on a class-A highway during a winter storm. The previous standard was four hours.
- When a weather event is forecast, increase patrol frequency to four hours. The previous standard was 24 hours.
- Contractors will be required to be more proactive prior to a winter weather event occurring and to spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event.
The ministry said that private contractors maintain 47,000 km of road and that road crews apply 750,000 tonnes of winter abrasives and 100,000 tonnes of salt to highways annually throughout B.C.