New Central Alberta highway maintenance team bolsters up for winter
Red Deer, Alberta – One of the province’s highway maintenance contractors says it is bolstering up for an Alberta winter. In addition to having a fleet of 36 new frontline plow and anti-icing trucks – plus eight spares – Mainroad Alberta Contracting estimates it will use 15,000 tonnes of salt and 71,000 tonnes of sand to maintain provincial highways this winter for its new contract in Central Alberta.
Put another way, that’s 1,500 truckloads of salt and 7,100 truckloads of sand.
“We attack winter aggressively to create safer road conditions,” said Leon Wasserfall, General Manager of Mainroad Alberta Contracting LP. “During severe weather events, we will have as many as 70 crew members working in shifts through a 24-hour period – and we’ll do that daily until all provincial highways in our Central Alberta service areas meet our contractual requirements.”
Mainroad Alberta’s sister company, Mainroad Chinook Contracting, has worked in the province for seven years on Calgary’s Southeast Stoney Trail project, one of the province’s largest public-private partnerships for highway infrastructure. That contract is entirely based on performance and was recently extended until the year 2043.
Mainroad began its Central Alberta contract with the Ministry of Transportation in August. Under this contract, the company oversees 4,600 kilometres of provincial highways surrounding the communities of Red Deer, Innisfail, Lacombe, Ponoka, Rimbey, and Wetaskiwin, known as Areas 515 and 516.
The Ministry of Transportation classifies highways in priority sequence and sets the criteria that Mainroad must follow. That criteria includes timeframes to respond and using accumulation levels to determine the best type of response.
“We know winter conditions can frustrate drivers and it doesn’t help when all roads aren’t cleared immediately,” said Wasserfall. “The provincial government classifies and prioritizes highways based on traffic volumes and function and Mainroad Alberta is required to follow the sequence they set out.”
For example, if a storm is particularly fierce, the government contract stipulates that Mainroad must focus on priority highways before turning to other ones. “We work as quickly as weather conditions allow to clear all roads in our service areas and we are working hard to meet our obligations,” said Wasserfall.
Mainroad Alberta works with various weather sources to stay ahead of the forecast.
“Forewarned is forearmed, so we follow forecasts closely to stay on top of rapidly changing weather,” said Wasserfall. “We also provide information to 511 Alberta about highway conditions. The public should pay attention to 511 Alberta and local radio stations for up-to-date weather and road conditions to help them plan their day.”
Mainroad Alberta also posts major updates on its Twitter page and encourages the public to call its 24-hour emergency response and communication centre to report any hazardous conditions.
Mainroad Alberta is part of Mainroad Group, a Canadian company based in British Columbia with 31 years of experience in highway maintenance, including managing some of Western Canada’s most rugged terrain.
In entering its newest contract in Alberta, Mainroad kept and created jobs in the communities it serves in Central Alberta, just as it did seven years ago with its Calgary contract.
“Ninety-eight percent of our Alberta workforce is local,” said Wasserfall. “We assumed some staff from the previous highway maintenance company and created additional jobs.”
So far, the company has hired approximately 70 people from in and around Central Alberta, with new hires pending.
Mainroad also hired an Alberta company to manufacture most of its new trucks.
“Our interest goes beyond business – we want to contribute to the local economy,” said Wasserfall.
He adds: “Your winter is our winter and Mainroad Alberta has every available resource working around the clock against winter conditions to keep your highways safer. We won’t always get it right, but we work incredibly hard and commit ourselves to continually improve and learn.”
Mainroad Alberta: Renu Bakshi 604.787.1873 / [email protected]
*For information about provincial highways, please contact the Ministry of Alberta (Alberta Transportation)
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