VIEWPOINT - Coquihalla Road Maintenance

SoapboxI find it interesting that following 2 serious crashes, Neil Menard, the mayor of Merritt, has been taking shots at the maintenance crews that are responsible for the Coquihalla. His statements seemed to imply that the public should be able to drive on bare pavement, regardless of the weather conditions.

My first thought was, its pretty bush league to call out the road crews, but also that it is stunts like this that just nurture the attitude that people are not responsible for their own lack of skill, or vehicle preparation, when it comes to winter driving in BC.

Regardless of the condition of any road, the onus is on the driver to have the vehicle properly equipped and also be competent at driving under the conditions.

I have never heard of ICBC apportioning blame on road conditions, with the exception of rock, mud or snow slides. My point being, if road conditions are the focus of the cause of the accidents, then how would he explain that the majority vehicles travelling at the same period, manage to do so without crashing?

If conditions are the main problem, then you would expect every second vehicle to end up in the ditch.

I just wish people would start accepting responsibility for their own driving behaviour.

I agree that people need to be responsible for their own driving. I don't think that "driving on bare pavement" is a realistic idea either, but the road crews do need to do a better job maintaining that highway. They definitely need more trucks on the road when the conditions are bad. There is just too much highway there for the amount of equipment they have.

People do have to drive to the road conditions yet at the same time there are standards that the contractors must meet. And those standards are the minimums and the public is entitled to expect that they will be met.

I have pulled into Merritt, Hope and Kamloops and complained directly to the contractors and sent letters to the MOTI. In my home community I have gone in and discussed the fact the contractor is not meeting minimums with the Ministry official for checking compliance. In all cases you get a run around of how conditions are extraordinary and out of the norm! Yet it happens every year. The main problem is each time the contracts come up even though it is clearly marked on all government contracts that the lowest bidder will not necessarily be accepted it always is. You cannot cut a million dollars per year out of a contract without cutting corners especially with cost rising.

If the MOTI is not requiring compliance to the current contract requirements why does anyone believe changing the requirements is going to make any difference? Start enforcing what is currently required. It is very simple. I would recommend that Hon. Claire Trevena demand that all MOTI inspectors immediately enforce the contracts and ask why they haven't been.

So, I agree with the Mayor. If the contractor is unable to meet the minimum conditions of the contract cancel it. The public is entitled to at least have the minimum. Over the years I have done hundreds of contracts for the government and I can tell you that I would never be allowed not to meet the standards. So why is it permissible for road contractors? Peoples lives are at stake.

And it is for these reasons I am against the variable speed limits. The signs reflect what the road conditions were hours ago. They are never current.

It would be worthwhile to link to the maintanance standards that must be met. Where would one find that?

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

Here is a link to standards.

Using the Coq. max accumulation in one lane is 4cm, 2nd. lane 8cm, and 3rd. lane 12cm. Max time to remove snow from one lane is 90 min. All lanes must be clear of snow within 2 days.

One of the problems probably is maintenance crews get confused on the amount of accumulation and figue cm refers to inches. Still looking how long they have to clean off highway signs. Will post again when I finally find. I doubt though that it is weeks!