Winter road maintenance in Ontario inadequate, Auditor General finds

by Truck News

TORONTO, Ont. — Ontario and its snow removal contractors may have to order some new equipment.

A report from the Auditor General found that service levels performed by contractors has declined and that available equipment for snow and ice removal from roads is insufficient.

The province’s transportation minister, Steven Del Duca, vowed to address the problem.

The shortcomings were outlined in a 43-page report titled Winter Highway Maintenance. While the report indicated Ontario has trimmed winter maintenance costs, it now takes longer to clear highways during and after a storm.

Six of 20 contract areas did not meet the province’s standards for timely snow removal, 90% of the time. Also, the time it took to clear highways after a storm increased from an average of 2.1 hours to 4.7 hours in the winter of 2013-2014.

“Today’s report has confirmed what we already knew: despite the improvements we have made – the additional equipment, additional oversight and organizational changes – the current system of winter highway maintenance needs to be better,” said Del Duca.

He said the Ministry has already added more than 100 pieces of equipment and strengthened oversight. The just-announced provincial budget also contains funding for more equipment changes, he added.

“As a ministry, we have a lot of work to do. But, so do our contractors. I will be meeting with them in person as soon as possible to determine how we can work together to improve this program and their performance,” said Del Duca, adding an action plan will be in place within 60 days to deal with the issue.

The Ontario Trucking Association welcomed the report and Del Duca’s commitment to addressing the issue.

“OTA has been working with MTO and its membership for two winter seasons to help build the case that some contractors do not appear to be fully living up to their contractual obligations,” the association said in a release. “OTA welcomes the Ministers Action plan and looks forward to providing the trucking industry’s input.”

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  • Lot of the ACCIDENTS were the result of drivers over driving for the ROAD CONDITIONS, roads are bad slow down or get off the roads., And no excuse for the plow contractors slow response on most occasions the storms are predicted well in advance for them to gear up on standby

  • Greg, I agree all vehicles, personal and commercial, drivers have to adapt to road conditions. But my experience last winter on the 401 was much worse than road conditions in northern Quebec. They really have to correct the situation…

  • Do away with E-logs so drivers will not feel forced to run during a storm. Pay all truck drivers by the HOUR and Lower the speed limit (during winter storms)and force all companies to allow longer for transit time in bad weather. Make plow contractors pay the tow bill when the road was cleaned .

  • I have more of a problem with the ’14 hour’ rule than Elogs. Once that clock starts, regardless of how your day went, it’s over exactly 14 hours later. So, if you’ve got 3 hours left on your clock and you want to get through Toronto, and it’s rush hour, and the smartest, safest thing to do is to shut down for a couple of hours, you can’t, because your clock is ticking away to the end of 14 hours. The geniuses who sat behind a desk and formulated this rule need to come out on the road and see that it just doesn’t work! I don’t really mind Elogs, but there should be about a half hour grace period to find a parking spot, reducing the next day to 13 and a half hours.

  • E-logs are eventually going to become a problem for drivers in day abs who are running Ontario. It may be time to have a small sleeper as standard equipment on new truck purchases. Turning a Sudbury, Windsor, Ottawa, or even more ridiculous, are the drivers trying to log and turn a Montreal daily. Anything can happen to mess up a trip on any one of the 400 series. Especially in winter, in a province that’s surrounded by 5 Great Lakes to the North, west, and south with prevailing winds coming from those directions.
    Complications are common in this business so e-logs are not to blame, but the companies that don’t see Ontario accurately and honestly for what it is coupled with drivers being forced to meet unreasonable deadlines. Deadlines where the time is sucked up to the minute leaving nothing real flexibility. There are 2 x15 breaks and 1-30 minute lunch allowed by law to all employees and when a Canadian driver pushes to the 16 th hour, it gives us the 2 hours off-duty time. Not that it’s allotted for by shippers or companies.
    With everything being predictable by the GTAs groaning traffic problems or by modern technology that can make the next 24 hours very accurate, there’s no excuse for not reading the road correctly.
    In the worst winter in 40 years, last year. The winter that lasted 24 weeks- I counted them all, my first 2 trips to Timmins was spend on snow and ice , both times , up and down and in the last two weeks of November. Winter hadn’t even begun.
    There is a “Point of No Return” speed for transport trucks in bad weather or road surfaces and its not 105 kph. Usually 80 kph is a retrievable speed if something goes wrong.
    OPP are finding trucks involve in plenty of early winter mishaps usually because they don’t slow down or acknowledge the atmospheric temperature that’s right on their dashboard.