According to Lakes District Maintenance (LDM), their manpower, equipment and budgets have not changed from last year, and their levels of service have remained the same as previous years.
“At this time we do not have any openings or shortages for our field staff or administration staff; we have exactly the same number of operators and administrative staff as last year,” said Mike Philip, LDM’s quality assurance and planning manager. “There have not been any cutbacks internally or from our clients in the past year; everything is the same as the 2016/17 season.”
Lakes District News has asked LDM how many graders they have available both for the Burns Lake area and the Southside. Philip said that, despite what rumours in town say, the Southside does not have more graders than the Burns Lake area.
Philip said he could not provide any further details about LDM’s equipment and manpower due to the nature of their business and how the bidding process works.
“Similar to the equipment, our manpower numbers and shift patterns are not items that we or other contractors would be putting out in the public domain as it ties directly into how contracts for highway maintenance are bid throughout the province,” he explained. “And with three service areas coming up for re-tender soon, this is not information that contractors, including us, want out for other companies to see.”
B.C. roads are classified A, B, C, D and E, based on their traffic volume and function, and are maintained in that order. A class A road is the first priority, followed by B and C and so on.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, schools routes are generally a class C. However, according to Philip, school routes are prioritized by LDM.
“Every morning I send an email to the school districts and give them an update on road conditions,” he said. “Our guys hit the roads in the mornings early before the buses get there.”
If a route becomes more popular or sees an increase in traffic, its classification may be upgraded. This is what happened to Hwy. 16 in 2014, when the ministry changed its maintenance classification to a class A level. Changes like this mean an increase in the maintenance commitment, resulting in more frequent patrols and quicker response times.
A class A road is allowed up to four centimetres of snow before it must be plowed, while a class B road is allowed up to six centimetres. Highways 35 and 118 are class B.
Class C roads are allowed up to 10 centimetres of snow; class D roads are allowed up to 15 centimetres; and class E roads are allowed up to 25 centimetres.
In a class A road, plowing of slush and removal of broken compact snow must be completed within 90 minutes. For class B roads, that timeframe is two hours, and for C roads, it’s six hours.