With snow already reported in the
outlying areas, Quesnel area
residents need to be prepared
for the inevitable change in seasons, from
fall to winter.
HMC has been preparing for winter since
last April and have almost all their materials
and equipment ready for the toughest
season in the Cariboo.
“We have 85 per cent of our crushing
completed with 85,000 cubic meters of
winter sand already stockpiled plus whatever
remained from last year,” division
manager John Andrushko said.
And in case you were wondering, the size
of the aggregate materials meets the industry
standard of no larger than 12.5 mm.
“Road salt supplies continue to come in.
Both salt brine and the salt trucks for early
onset of freeze/thaw and black ice conditions
are in place.”
Motorists may have noticed the signs
about shifting into winter already on the
side of the road encouraging the switch to
winter tires and changing driving habits to
reflect the need for extra caution, stopping
space and awareness of trucks and equipment.
“We tell people to expect the unexpected,”
HMC maintains five road maintenance yards
in Quesnel, Hixon, McLeese Lake, Wells and
Nazko and there are 14 pits strategically placed
to service all the areas. Equipment and trucks
are dispatched directly from these yards to ensure
road maintenance is as immediate as possible.
“We’ve already had five trucks out plowing
and sanding from Nazko and Wells Oct. 1.”
The winter fleet includes 35 winter-ready plow
trucks, nine graders and one towplow, plus 80+
road crew members with the addition of five
hired trucks and two hired graders as required.
The fleet now includes five new wing trucks,
to be deployed primarily to clear highway snow.
They will be distributed throughout HMC’s
Andrushko said these trucks are what’s called
green initiative vehicles with the highest emission
standards required on highway trucks.
“They operate with the newest computerized
controls for materials and hydraulics and have
fully automatic transmissions, which is one less
thing for drivers to worry about, allowing them
to concentrate on safety, efficiency and the job
on hand,” he said.
These 2013 Western Star trucks were purchased
basically as just the cab and rolling chassis
and our excellent team of mechanics have
outfitted them over the past year. It takes about
250 mechanical man hours to outfit each truck.
That’s seven weeks for one mechanic on one
As part of their service protocol, HMC meets
with the Ministry of Highways and stakeholders
to get feedback on what they do well and
any areas that may need improvement.
“We are especially attentive of industry
pressures, such as changes in logging activity,
so levels of service can be allocated
efficiently,” Andrushko said.
He was pleased to say they have high employee
retention which translates to very
experienced drivers who know the equipment
and the area.
“Every operator receives annual winter
awareness training and that is currently
With a goal of being 80 per cent prepared
by Oct. 15, Andrushko said they’re already
there and they’ll be fully operational by
“However we’re certainly ready for any
early storm right now. It important we hit
the first couple of storms hard. The driving
public is historically not as prepared as
they could be for those first few storms but
we will be ready.”
He also said motorists have a responsibility
to check with DriveBC and the weather
networks before heading out.
They can also report road conditions
they encounter to HMC through the office,
250-992-8809 or to the after-hours
number 1-866-353-3136 where the operator
will then direct their information to the
correct maintenance yard.
There’s also a new weather station at
Hush Lake and connected to that station are
two new permanent, overhead message boards
which warn motorists of the latest information
on any potential dangers in that area.
And as the time draws near when trucks and
equipment will be on the road, HMC asks the
public to respect the difficult job they do in difficult
“Be patient, everyone wants to arrive home
safely. We ask drivers to be especially aware of
the new towplow as it clears a broad swath and
with its articulated, flexible width plowing capability
it will be working multi-lane sections
and some regular roads.”
Throughout the discussion of winter preparedness,
Andrushko stressed that safety was
the first priority, for his crews and the driving