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Penticton  

New hwys contractor soon

Highways and provincial roads throughout the Okanagan and Shuswap will have a new contractor maintaining them starting this spring, but the provincial government will not say what it's paying for the service quite yet.

Maintenance contracts previously held by Argo in the South Okanagan zone (Kelowna to Osoyoos) and JPW Road and Bridge in the Okanagan-Shuswap (Fintry north past Seymour Arm) have been handed to Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc.

The Spanish multinational won an opening bidding process for the 10-year contracts with a five-year option.  Acciona will take over the Okanagan-Shuswap on April 1 and the South Okanagan on May 1.

The Ministry of Transportation refused Thursday to disclose the dollar value of the contracts, but says they will be revealed “at the end of the procurement season this summer.”

“As procurement is ongoing, releasing financial information at this point could impact the fair and open bidding process,” the Ministry statement added.

The Argo contract in the South Okanagan was worth $14M per year in 2004, with annual increases for inflation. JPW Road and Bridge was paid $12.3M a year in the first year of its contract in 2004.

The provincial government says changes to the contracts will see increased communication during severe weather events and returning Class-A highways to bare pavement within 24 hours of a storm when it's -9 C or warmer (previous standard was 48 hours).

Patrol frequency has been increased to 90 minutes during a winter storm, up from four hours. Contractors will also be required to be more proactive prior to a winter storm through the use of anti-icing chemicals.

The unionized plow truck drivers, labourers and bridge crews currently working for Argo and JPW in the region will be employed by Acciona under the same collective agreement.



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