Snow-clearing policies discussed in legislature

Dave Stewart
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A plow clears snow along the Victoria Park boardwalk in Charlottetown on Tuesday, April 1.

MLA Sonny Gallant says some constituents asking why their roads not cleared sooner

Government house leader Sonny Gallant says he’s hearing from his constituents in Evangeline-Miscouche when it comes to snow on the roads.

So, Gallant rose in the legislative assembly on Thursday looking for answers during question period.

“I want to praise the plow operators because we have had a rough winter,’’ Gallant told The Guardian following question period.

“That being said, I’ve had some calls from constituents who felt their road could have been opened sooner.’’

Gallant said it really raised the ire of his constituents when they saw quite a bit of snow on their own roads only to see that others had been cleared.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey said he knows people are complaining about the level of service.

Vessey said the province changed the way it delivers that service a couple of years ago, giving the routes with the highest traffic volume priority.

The levels of service place roads on P.E.I. into four categories — from A through D, with class A being roads such as Route 1, 1A and Route 2.

For class A highways, plowing begins when snow has reached a depth of 2.5 centimetres.

The goal is also to salt the surface to achieve bare pavement.

For class B highways (the collectors), such as Kinkora Road, the snow depth is also 2.5 centimetres for plowing to begin.

The centre of the roads are sanded as required to achieve bare travel lanes.

With secondary roads, the snow depth is six centimetres for plowing.

“We get 80 per cent of our traffic on 20 per cent of our roads, on the Trans-Canada, Route 1 and Route 2, 3 and 4 we’ve got provincial plows on those highways because they carry the capacity,’’ Vessey said.

“We’ve since handed the contractors who may have had some of those routes back

to the secondary and some of the collectors.’’

Vessey stressed that while government policy sets out parameters at which plowing must occur, often the plows are out before the snow gets that deep.

He said the same criteria is used around the Maritimes.

Gallant said he understands there are different classifications for different roads.

“That being said, people still need to get to work and get home after work,’’ the government house leader said.

Vessey said it’s been a challenging winter for everyone.

“Our plow operators and local contractors worked very, very hard this winter and did a tremendous job in one of the worst winters we have had in 40 to 42 years.’’

The minister added that the province also uses ‘road checkers’ and has GPS trackers in all of its plows to monitor where the plows are and where they’ve been.

 

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Trans-Canada

Geographic location: Evangeline-Miscouche, P.E.I., Kinkora Road

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  • Plow Operator
    April 04, 2014 - 17:47

    I am, as well, a plow operator and have done so for the past 35 years. This will be my last year doing it and it is not because I am retiring as I am only in my 50's. I have forgotten more about snow removal than anyone in charge of the government snow removal operations knows or will ever know. It is the most thankless job in the world and we only have the PEI Government to blame for it. I can explain exactly what the problem is in depth but it would take a 7-chapter book to do so. I will try and simplify it by saying that the travelling public, as well as the provincial government, needs a rude awakening. For the past 40 vote-buying years, the provincial government has hired so many "Yes-Men" that there is nobody left within the public cival service that has a clue as to how to say NO publically. So whenever Unemployed Johnny, Farmer Joe or Fisherman Fred need to get to Tim Hortons to get their java in the middle of a snowstorm , they end up getting stuck in the middle of the road and complaining to the government about highway conditions. Then the government "Yes-Man" agrees with them and calls the contractors to see why the road is not passable. Well the truth is, unless they took the farm tractor to go and get their coffee, they should not have been able to get through. Blizzard conditions are not only unsafe for the travelling public, they are unsafe for snowplow operators as well. Even if the contractor is foolish enough to send out their operators in a blizzard at the government "Yes-Mans" request, the road fills back in 5 minutes later at twice the depth as when the plow first went through. In short, what needs to happen, is that Police need to be authorized to charge anyone caught driving on a public highway during a snowstorm/blizzard that is not out due to an emergency or on their way to or from work, needs to be fined at least $500. Anyone calling and reporting poor road conditions should be completely ignored unless they can justify why they need to be on the highway during a snowstorm. If not ignored, they should suffer the same consequences as the dumb-dumb out driving in it,,,a $500 fine. These steps would be just a small step in correcting the problem but there is a lot more involved and none of it will buy the votes that this government needs to buy.

    • OR
      April 04, 2014 - 21:27

      Or, you could just keep your opinions to yourself and do the job you are very well paid to do.

    • huh
      April 05, 2014 - 07:24

      @OR: Keep opinion to himself? Why? That's what these forums are for. At least he actually has something to say.

  • Plow operator
    April 04, 2014 - 10:56

    I am a plow operator and am as tired of winter as everyone else. While everyone wants their road open sooner, the reality is that not everyone can't be first. There have been a lot of days this winter that it simply drifted in right behind us. While most are understanding, I have had more people pass me this winter and give me the one finger salute as we are trying to widen the roads back to make them better for the public. I guess we are holding them up for a couple of minutes but we are doing the best we can with the equipment and conditions we are given. Please give the operators a little room and be patient because it makes our job a bit easier.

  • ralph
    April 04, 2014 - 10:56

    sonny is worried not enough people getting to miscouche store to spend some money. as far as the road getting plowed if it is a plow route of 25/30 klm somebody is going get plowed out first and somebody is going to be last anybody with brain in there head could figure that out even an mla

    • jimbob
      April 04, 2014 - 22:47

      Hey Ralph that is a cheap and dirty shot at a good man. He voiced his constituents concerns.

  • bafflled in east royalty
    April 04, 2014 - 10:44

    you said 80% of the traffic uses the # 1 & 2 highways seriously Robbie where do you think the traffic comes from , I would think that the people living on the secondary roads !!!!!!!!!!!

    • huh
      April 04, 2014 - 12:55

      Its not that baffling. The stats don't mean 80% of cars only use the highways. It means most of the traffic ends up on the four highways.

  • Townie
    April 04, 2014 - 09:59

    I understand what a difficult winter for snow removal this has been, and appreciate the difficulties it has given, but for the love of God, I live on a street with an elementary school in the middle of the city whose sidewalks have on average not been plowed for 3 day following a snow event! It's frustrating to watch the children walking to school almost in the middle of the streets of an already narrowed busy thoroughfare .