Howard, “One only has to look at the condition of Highway 22 …”

Howard, “One only has to look at the condition of Highway 22 …”

Time to review B.C.’s highway maintenance

Letter to the Editor from Kent Howard of Genelle

It is with great interest, and anger , that I read the numerous past editorials and letters to the editor regarding the winter maintenance of our local highways.

It is also with interest how MOTI and Emcon staunchly deny that there is a the lack of effort and resources being applied to our highways in keeping our roads as safe as possible. Their reference to abiding by, and upholding to the ISO9000 standard, is lame and doesn’t cut it with me

Which leads me to question, what is this ISO9000 standard? It would be interesting to read through this standard and compare it to the standard back in the day of Rubenoff Johnson’s day. I refer to Mr Johnson’s letter to the editor, (“Highway maintenance has changed over the years” Trail Times, Feb. 1), in which he describes the standard prior to 1988, where the coordination between the district manager and the regional highways engineer assigned and maintained enough equipment and staff to maintain our roads to “black pavement” status.

The NDP, as well as the Liberals, should share equal blame on this issue on how the contracts to the Emcons and their counterparts throughout B.C., have been administered over the years. What is ironic is that we have the necessary and ever evolving workplace standards in place to reduce potential workplace accidents from occurring , yet we face an unacceptable and greater risk travelling to and from work on a daily basis. If a risk of this magnitude were in the workplace, it would have been dealt with years ago.

It is my opinion , that the maintenance of our B.C. roads should be an essential service, provided by the government, not a business where companies are constantly looking to cut corners to make higher profits at the expense of public safety.

One only has to look at the condition of our local Highway 22 during the week of Feb. 17-23. The majority of the highway was icy, hard compact and dangerous with the only sections that appeared to have been given any sand or de-icer were the few hills, none of the straights or flat sections of the highway were maintained to “black pavement” status.

It was mentioned by the MOTI group in their Feb. 8 address to Castlegar council, the current ice melt is only effective at temps of -6 C or higher. Well we faced temps well below that during the Feb. 17 week , but I argue that a preemptive look at the short range weather forecast would have, or should have, red flagged the importance of applying the necessary material and resources in advance of the cold weather. The colder weather, that followed the weekend snowfall, spotlighted the obvious sections of road that no deicer was applied to.

The days of a government ran highways department is long over, and I feel that is not the answer to the dilemma we face. The “fix” is in the overhauling of the current ISO9000 to a higher standard , with an emphasis on stricter government performance auditing, and ensuring enough funding is in place for the contractors to meet the upgraded standard

I for one, will be forwarding a copy of this letter to our local MLA Katrine Conroy asking that the government move forward in making the necessary changes to the current ISO9000 in order to reduce the current risk we all face travelling on our local highways.

Kent Howard