Get set for winter driving

Now that winter has arrived, Public Works will be doing their part to keep Cranbrook's roads and sidewalks clear of the white stuff.

Now that winter has officially arrived, Public Works will be doing their part to keep Cranbrook’s roads and sidewalks clear of the white stuff.

However, the highways can be tricky to navigate, especially when the snow freezes, and that maintenance falls under Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting.

The company is responsible for plowing and maintaining numbered provincial highways and roads between Brisco (north), Goatfell (west), Alberta (east) and the U.S. Border (south).

Al Sander, general manager for the company, said people often ask what gets plowing priority and how often plows are out to apply salt and winter abrasive.

“It’s important for everyone to know that Mainroad’s plowing response time is determined by the standards set by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” Sander said. “Priority is given to numbered highways and school bus routes with other roads frequency determined by winter traffic volumes.

“These frequencies are reviewed annually by the Ministry to ensure that plowing priorities reflect any changes in the road network.”

Mainroad is not responsible for plowing inside municipal boundaries or on forest service roads, but there are maintenance yards scattered across the region at Yahk, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Jaffray, Invermere, Fernie and Sparwood.

In terms of numbers, there are 3,673 lane kilometres to cover with up to 50 pieces of snow removal equipment. 5,500 tons of salt is stored in 10 sheds, and 60,000 tons of winter sand gets used on the roads.

During the winter, the company is encouraging drivers use winter tires and to slow down and allow for a larger gap between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.

Accidents, unsafe road conditions and road kill can be reported to Mainroad’s hotline, the information of which is used to update DriveBC, while the hotline can dispatch additional personnel and record public communication as required. That number is 1-800-665-4929.