Mainroad taking over Gabriola roadways contract from EMCON

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, August 28 2018

A new contractor will be taking over maintenance of Gabriola roadways as part of a new contract signed with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

The contract for Service Area 02, which is responsible for provincial roadways in the Nanaimo (including Gabriola), Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni areas, has been awarded to Mainroad Mid-Island Contracting LP.

Mainroad has also been awarded the contract for Service Area 03, which covers the areas of the Comox Valley, Campbell River and Port Hardy.

Both contracts have a 10-year term and an optional five-year extension. 

Both are set to begin on September 1, 2018, the day after the existing contracts expire.

Representatives from Mainroad declined to comment on the announcement, pending a finalization of discussions with the Transportation Ministry on protocols. Mainroad confirmed that the company would be starting contracted operations on September 1, 2018.

A statement on the website for Mainroad Mid-Island Contracting LP states, “The Mainroad Operations team are delighted to be returning to Vancouver Island effective September 1, 2018. The headquarters and primary works yard for Mainroad Mid-Island Contracting are located in Parksville with supporting works yards in Duke Point, Port Alberni, Ucluelet, and the Gulf Islands of Gabriola and Lasqueti.”

Since the BC Liberals privatized highways maintenance in the early 2000s, Gabriola’s roads have been maintained by Emcon Services.

So far, representatives from MOTI, Mainroad and/or Emcon have talked about what will happen with the former MOTI yard that Emcon has owned since privatization.

Emcon also owns the other lots on Paisley Place, all of which are zoned Institutional.

Mainroad could, potentially, set up its own yard and facilities on Gabriola, not using the Emcon property.

According to Islands Trust staff, the zones that currently permit “highway work yards” are Institutional 2 - (IN2) and Institutional 3 - (IN3). 

Mainroad had not indicated as of press time where the company would be locating its facility on Gabriola.

According to the Ministry press release sent out this past Friday, the new maintenance contracts for all service areas require higher standards and a more proactive approach when a severe weather event occurs. 

Some of the biggest improvements over the most recent contracts are:

• Return Highway 19, Highway 4 and other Class A winter highways to bare pavement within 24 hours of a severe weather event. The previous standard was 48 hours at temperatures of -9 C or warmer.

• Expanded sweeping along cycling routes.

• Increased communication with the public to rapidly changing road conditions during severe weather events and other incidents affecting travel on BC roads.

• When a weather event is forecasted to occur, increase the patrol frequency to four hours in anticipation of the weather event. The previous standard was 24 hours.

According to the Ministry, private contractors maintain nearly 47,000 kilometres of road and 2,800 bridges in some of the most challenging terrain in Canada.

Crews apply 750,000 tonnes of winter abrasives and 100,000 tonnes of salt to over 1.2 million kilometres of highways annually throughout B.C.

The value of the 28 highway maintenance agreements totals approximately $400 million annually.