Keeping roads clear and safe in winter is a challenge

Snow clearing on roads

I exchanged messages last week with a commercial truck driver who was less than impressed with the winter maintenance of B.C.'s highways.

There is no doubt in my mind that when your livelihood depends on being able to keep your truck moving, road maintenance is a subject near and dear to your heart.

My question is, was this gentleman speaking from emotion or was he being realistic?

If money was no object, we could hire enough people and equipment that snow removal vehicles would pass by you on any highway in B.C. like transit buses in downtown Vancouver at rush hour.

But that is not realistic, of course. Our taxes would not support it and what would you do with all that manpower and machinery when the snow wasn't falling?

When I travel in winter, part of the plan includes a decision about whether it is appropriate to travel at all. If it is, and I run into an unforeseen situation, it's up to me to have some stake in being able to look after myself—good winter tires, chains, jumper cables, a shovel, some sand, breakdown warnings, you get the idea.

I cannot, and should not, place 100% of the job on the shoulders of the road maintenance contractors. The B.C. Government publishes the specifications that road maintenance contractors must meet. If you feel that they are not being met, you can bring it to the attention of the appropriate MLA.

Yes, sometimes road maintenance is not ideal. People get sick and can't come to work, equipment breaks down and Mother Nature just dumps more snow out of the sky than even the best can cope with.

It's all a compromise and, in my experience, crews seem to do quite well more often than not.

This map contains contact information for maintenance reports. Simply click on the area of the incident for reporting information.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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