An Emcon plow truck clearing Highway 97 north of Quesnel Dec. 28. Emcon Services photo

28 plow trucks working hard in North Cariboo region

Division manager says once snow stops, roads will be plowed within 48 hours

The snow is still falling lightly in Quesnel, and drivers are being warned about conditions as snowfall is expected until the early hours of Dec. 29.

“Our forecasters said there would be four to six inches, and we are pushing eight to 10 in most areas now,” commented John Andrushko, Emcon Services’ division manager.

Andrushko said there are currently 28 plow trucks out in the North Cariboo region. His division has yards in Quesnel, McLeese Lake, Wells and Hixon, and covers an area from about 30 kilometres south of McLeese Lake to 30 kilometres north of Hixon, out to Bowron Lake in the east and out to Nazko and Batnuni in the west.

Andrushko said Emcon, which holds the highway maintenance contract from B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, brought in extra drivers for today, after monitoring the forecast closely over the last few days.

“We ramped up and brought in additional employees to all the yards for tonight. The mechanics are all in and are on call at night time so if there are any issues, they come in right away. The shifts are between eight hours and 9.5 hours, but the employees are great – their families drive these roads too and they take pride in it, so they all stay for 12 hour shifts and it’s seamless, the trucks are out all the time,” said Andrushko.

Emcon plows and grades all highways and side roads in the region, apart from areas in the City of Quesnel. They do plow Front Street, Carson Avenue, Legion Drive and the sani-dump loop within the city.

With snow still falling, Andrushko said it’s a matter of trying to keep up.

“We are putting a lot of emphasis on the highways – Highway 97, the Nazko Highway, Bouchie Lake Hill, Highway 26 out to Wells – because there are a lot of people travelling, especially Highway 97 from the Christmas holidays,” he said.

“There was a highway closure down in Williams Lake and they’ve opened that up so there will be quite an influx of northbound traffic, so we are putting a lot of emphasis on 97, trying to make it good. People seem to get antsy after they’ve been sitting for a couple of hours and try to pass the semis where they shouldn’t, and that’s where worse accidents happen,” he explained.

READ MORE: Highway 97 north of Williams Lake re-opens to single lane alternating traffic

Once the snow stops, Emcon must have all roads plowed within 48 hours, as stipulated by their contract, but Andrushko said they can get it all done within 35 hours. He said since the snowfall began to slow around 2 p.m., some plows have already begun turning off the highways to clear main routes into subdivisions.

But Andrushko said his forecasters, who work 24/7 providing updates to his drivers, predict there will be freezing rain starting sometime in the morning. It could mean they choose not to plow some of the side roads: “You are better off to leave as much snow as possible on the smaller side roads when you having freezing rain coming in, because the rain will be absorbed by the snow and you will have better traction. Once everything is plowed and you have a cold service and thin compact, as soon as it rains, everything is slippery all at once.

“We are having to make a judgment call,” said Andrushko.

Andrushko said he currently has three graders out on the roads, and once the snow – and potentially rain – stops, all the plows plus the full fleet of nine graders will be out until the roads are clear.

In addition to plowing and grading the roads, Emcon must also keep rest areas, scales and runaway lanes open and clear, and attend incidents that happen on the roads.

The Observer has contacted the City of Quesnel Public Works division to find out about their snow removal efforts, but has so far not received a response.

VIDEO: Snowfall warning still in effect for Quesnel area

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Barkerville planning for Halloween events and virtual field trips

This year’s Halloween events will focus on traditional trick or treating, and tickets are limited

Quesnel pickleballers battle for appropriate prizes

Jars of pickles painted gold, silver and bronze were given to the top men’s, women’s and doubles teams

PHOTOS: Quesnel Farmers’ Market gearing up for giant pumpkin weigh-in

This year’s giant pumpkin contest will look different but will take place Oct. 10

BC VOTES 2020: Provincial election will have familiar duo battling in Cariboo North

The two candidates who received the most votes in 2017 will both be running in Cariboo North again

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Permanent fish-passage solutions considered at Big Bar landslide

151,000 salmon detected this year north of site

B.C. VOTES 2020: Few solutions offered for ‘out of control’ camping

B.C. Liberals, NDP spend millions as problem keeps growing

Most Read