Highways near Rimbey, Ponoka, Lacombe and Sylvan Lake given ‘C’ priority by Alberta Transportation

Mainroad Alberta following contract set by Alberta Transportation

For Robin Lamay, who lives in Bentley and commutes to Red Deer, traveling safely is, of course, a priority as it is for all people who travel on Alberta roads.

Lamay is a seasoned commuter, having worked in Red Deer for many years. She is accustomed to winter driving conditions and is familiar with the challenges presented by icy roads.

However, this year, with winter just getting underway, Lamay said she has found road conditions to be worse than usual.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “There is no sand or anything on the roads. I’m stunned that nothing is being done.”

Mainroad Alberta’s General Manager, Leon Wasserfall said public feedback is appreciated.

“As we know winter conditions can frustrate drivers and it doesn’t help when all roads aren’t cleared immediately. The Ministry of Transportation classifies highways in priority sequence and sets the criteria that Mainroad Alberta must follow to fulfill its contractual obligations. For example, if a storm is particularly fierce, the government contract stipulates that Mainroad Alberta must focus on priority highways before turning to other ones.”

A spokesman confirmed that according to a map released by Alberta Transportation highways #20, #12 and #53 have been given a ‘C’ priority.

Wasserfall said sand and salt was continually applied to priority highways during the recent cold snap when roads became particularily icy.

“Our crews were continually applying sand and salt — as quickly as the weather would allow — to meet our contractual obligations. We won’t always get it right, but we work incredibly hard and commit ourselves to continually improve and learn,” he said in his email.

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.

A press release issued by Renu Bakshi Communications states 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.

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