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Cariboo highways contracts awarded

New highways maintenance contracts have been awarded for service areas 17 and 18 in the Cariboo.

The contract for Service Area 17 (Central Cariboo), which provides maintenance on provincial roadways for several communities, including Williams Lake and Bella Coola, has been awarded to Dawson Road Maintenance (formerly Interior Roads Ltd.).

Service Area 18 (Northern Cariboo), which includes provincial road maintenance for Quesnel, Nazko and the surrounding communities, was again awarded to the current contractor, Emcon Services Inc.

Both contracts have a 10-year term and an optional five-year extension. Both are set to begin on July 1, 2019, the day after the existing contracts expire.

The new maintenance contracts for all service areas require higher standards and a more proactive approach when a severe weather event occurs. Here are some of the biggest improvements over the most recent contracts:

* Increased communication with the public about rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on B.C. roads.

* Return Winter Class A highways 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.

* Increase patrol frequency to 90 minutes on a Class A highway, like Highway 97, during a winter storm. The previous standard was four hours.

* When a weather event is forecasted, increase the patrol frequency to four hours. The previous standard was 24 hours.

* Under the new agreement, contractors will be required to be more proactive prior to a winter weather event, and to spread anti-icing chemicals prior to the weather event.

Twenty-six of the 28 maintenance contracts in the province have been tendered and will be awarded by the end of 2019, through a staggered open-bidding process.

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