LETTER FROM ROSSLAND TELEGRAPH: As winter approaches, are our highways safe enough?

http://rosslandtelegraph.com    October 8, 2012

Dear editor,

I have previously written about the state of our roads and highways, especially after my family was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident in January last year.  Luckily, they walked away with minor injuries but the effects psychologically have lasted much longer.

That accident could have resulted in the death of my entire family. It has changed how I view life and as a result, I am conscious of how precious life is, how important my family is and that there are no guarantees.

I am also conscious that we are exposed to risks every day when we get up in the morning and step outside our doors.  What I have been more aware of is how the highways are being maintained (or not), and if that is an acceptable risk, or do I continue to raise awareness and ask questions and push both the Ministry of Transportation and the highways maintenance contractor to do a better job.

Some of the things that I have noticed lately that give me cause for concern are as follows:

1)    If you have driven over the Paulson lately, you will notice that there is significant rock fall debris in the ditches.  Some have been flagged since before the summer, some not flagged at all, but it is concerning that we are now heading into the winter season and the rock fall has been there since the spring.  When will this be cleared?

2)    There is a sinkhole just above the runaway lane on the Rossland/Trail hill that has been flagged for almost a month. This is a safety hazard for all of the driving public and again, with winter almost upon us, will this be fixed or will it be covered with snow and result in a serious accident where someone might be injured or lose their life? Maybe the entire road with slough away and it will be considered an act of God.  When might we expect this area of our major highway to be repaired?

3)    There has been some ditching done around the area which is great, but what is concerning is that many of the culverts in the area remain plugged with sand and debris from last year and the ditching crews have just gone around the plugged culverts.  Even I know that the run off from rain or melting snow has to go somewhere. If the culverts are plugged, the water will end up going where it is not supposed to but then again, this might be considered another act of God.  Who is ensuring that the work taxpayers are paying for is being done to standard?

In the past, when I have voiced my concerns with the Ministry of Transportation and also Emcon, I have received less that favourable treatment (sometimes actual ridicule bordering on abuse), so now I am committed to airing my concerns in public.

I don’t think I am the only one out there who expects a better standard of maintenance.  Please join the Facebook group entitled “Citizens for Better Highway Maintenance” or forward your concerns to the Manager, Maintenance Programs Nicole.PharandFraser@gov.bc.ca

[the following was added as a comment to an earlier post by Ms. McLean]

A Ministry of Transportation official (Area Manager) asked me for my thoughts about the following questions. Please feel free to weigh in and I will send him all of the responses.
Here is what he is what he has written:
"I must admit that I am confused as to why some individuals are targeting their anger at Emcon Services. And I am wondering if part of this has to do with drivers expectations versus highway specifications. I have been giving this a lot of thought and I am trying to get a better understanding of what people are thinking about with respect to road maintenance. So maybe you could help answer some of my queries:
1) Do you think that drivers are aware that accumulations of snow are allowed on the highways?
2) Do you think that drivers are used to bare asphalt so expect it all of the time?
3) Do you think that because our weather is constant freeze/thaw that drivers are not adjusting their speeds accordingly or to the ever changing road conditions?
4) Or other?

Tammy McLean

Rossland

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