Interior Roads makes "strategic changes" to snowfall response

The proof will be in the driving.

Interior Roads says it is prepared for winter and has made “strategic changes” to how it keeps highways clear of snow in its contract area.

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Interior Rhodes new quality manager David Rhodes appeared as a delegation at District of Lillooet Council’s Nov. 19 meeting to update council on the company’s plans.

He said one change involves applying salt brine to the highways to handle snowfall.

A small brine truck will be located in Lillooet, with larger trucks stationed in the Ashcroft-Cache Creek and 100 Mile House areas.

“We’ll be putting out salt brine prior to storms, and the purpose is to reduce the amount of compact that can develop on the road,” said Rhodes. “If we apply a light brine, it creates a brine underneath the actual snow which allows plows to remove that snow because it hasn’t bonded to the asphalt.”

Another major change involves salting the highways based more on what the temperatures are than on the time of day.

“If it’s midnight, the storm’s over and we’re heading into a warming trend, we’re going to salt at midnight. Although there’s a lot less traffic and you don’t have the benefit of radiant heat from the sun on the asphalt, our top management has experience with this,” said Rhodes.

He said motorists could be disconcerted if they drive by a spot where they’re used to seeing a massive pile of sand in one pit. “Normally, they might see 4,000 metres of sand. This year, they might see 1,000 metres because the sand has already been distributed from one central location to smaller locations.”

He added that Interior Roads crews have already been into a 24/7 maintenance cycle for the past month.

Regarding communication with the public, Rhodes said the Interior Roads website is the primary way for the public to connect with the highway contractor about a road concern. He advises people to go to www.interiorroads.com and click on the contact button on the main page.

Interior Roads also has a 1-800 number - 1-800-842-4122 – staffed by real people in a call centre.

“You will not get an answering machine,” said Rhodes. “Because it’s a manned phone you may go straight into canned elevator music because there are five operators there dealing with calls. Hang onto the line. You will get to an operator very quickly. I don’t think anybody’s waited more than a couple of minutes for that. Those people at the call centre have direct access through our radio network to the crews on the ground. If there’s a concern about Mission Mountain and somebody calls in, the operators can get hold of the people who are looking after Mission Mountain immediately, 24 hours a day, and get a response.”

He added that Interior Roads social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and its webpage are where the public can find announcements on topics ranging from job postings to advance notices of bridge closures.

Highways maintenance contracts province-wide are currently up for bid. Rhodes told Mayor Peter Busse that he presumes other contractors are bidding against his company for the contract in the South Cariboo and Central Cariboo areas.

Results of the tender process will be released towards the end of January.

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