Penticton News

New road contractor fails to make a clean sweep of Okanagan roads

Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance's Okanagan services are working to complete road sweeping in the next 10 to 14 days after falling behind deadlines due to excessive sand on the roads, contract changeover issues and new sweeping methods.
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PENTICTON - It's been a rough start for the Okanagan’s new road maintenance contractor as efforts to clean extra-dirty roads have fallen short of goals.

Acciona Infrastructure Canada, which recently took over road maintenance duties in the South Okanagan and Okanagan Shuswap was recently issued a non-compliance report by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for failing to meet road sweeping targets by May 15.

The non-compliance report concerned sweeping of both highway service areas' class 1 and 2 roads.

An email statement issued on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure by Public Affairs Officer Jamie Weiss, said sweeping of those roads is underway, with the contractor given until mid-June to complete the requirement for sideroad sweeping.

“The contractor has worked to acquire additional sweeping equipment and has since deployed this heavy equipment around the service area,” Weiss said.

Acciona is also required to submit a corrective action plan by July 1, which is intended to go into effect for future years to address the sweeping deficiencies noted this year.

Acciona Director of Operations Greg Ehman says there was significantly more winter sand left on roadways than anticipated. He says the previous contractor was unable to undertake as rigorous a sweeping program as they might otherwise have done due to the contract changeover.

Ehman says Acciona is sweeping many roads with mechanical pick-up brooms because of stakeholder concerns, which is also slowing down the rate of maintenance. He says the service is one that actually exceeds contractual requirements and requires additional sweeping equipment not included in the tender process.

“Acciona is working closely with the ministry for a long-term solution to address this,” Ehman wrote in a email today, June 17.

Ehman admits Acciona’s sweeping program didn’t meet expectations or standards in the North or South Okanagan service areas this spring.

“Contract changeover periods are difficult and were exacerbated by the reasons outlined above. Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance has already commenced its continuous improvement process and entered into discussions with the ministry to ensure a smoother sweeping program in 2020,” he said.

He says sweeping should be completed in the next 10 days to two weeks. The company has contracted additional sweeping units and is currently addressing a long term solution with the ministry to have a new practice in place for the fall.

Acciona acquired the contract for road maintenance for the Okanagan Shuswap, on April 1, which covers Vernon, Salmon Arm, Sicamous and surrounding communities.

It took over South Okanagan operations from former Argo Road Maintenance at the beginning of May.

The new contracts with the province require higher standards and a more proactive approach when a winter weather event occurs than previous agreements with past contractors.

Regional District  of Okanagan Similkameen Electoral Area I Director Subrina Montieth says she’s fielded complaints from constituents over the unswept side streets. She says she passed the comments on to Acciona.

“Once they get going, I think they’ll do a good job. They’re behind the ball, but I think they will catch up,” she said.

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