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Thursday May 28 2015
10:05 PM EDT
2014-02-26 at 08:36

Transportation Minister defends winter road maintenance of Northwest highways


Ontario's Transportation Minister is defending winter road maintenance in the Northwest, despite continued concerns from residents over the condition of highways in this region.

Minister Glen Murray says he's excited about recent highway maintenance reforms, and insists that his ministry continues to improve standards for road conditions in the North. 

That came in response to a question posed by MPP Sarah Campbell (NDP, Kenora) Tuesday afternoon at Queen's Park in Toronto. Campbell says ministry oversight of private contractors has diminished under the Liberal-led provincial government.

Last month, the MTO imposed penalties on several highway maintenance contractors for failing to meet winter maintenance standards. 

Campbell said repeated invitations extended to Murray to visit problem highways himself have gone unanswered.

The exchange was in stark contrast to comments made by Murray earlier this month, when he publicly apologized to Northwestern Ontario residents for the state of the region's highways.

(Thunder Bay Television)



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yqt says:
The Tories downloaded winter road maintenance in the 1990's claiming it would save taxpayers fistfuls or dollars. It actually cost a great deal more and the maintenance levels are much lower than when the Ministry did the work itself. We lost alot of good people who actually gave a crap about their job and their performance off making the hghways safe. Public servants were accountable to the people of Ontario. Someone working for a private operator is accountable to their boss who is look to make a profit. The profit comes from doing less work, and from cutting corners and profit-motivated operations aren’t going to forego the profit in the interest of public safety. They are not working in an environment that honors public service and they are far less accountable.

2/27/2014 9:52:29 AM
S Duncan says:
You're delusional.

I was involved heavily with the MTO yards before all the changes. Trust me, I still to this day never saw such a huge waste of money.

I don't have a problem with your claims of good people, I knew many of them and they are good people.

but that doesn't mean that our road conditions have suffered.

The money that was being wasted on MTO road maintenance was insane. There were honestly many guys who could sleep all night unless it snowed. Im not talking about one guy per yard either. Im talking 99% of the guys on duty.

The way it was before was terrible. Going back would be financial insanity. It made no sense then and it doesn't now.

Stop the liberal party nonsense.
2/27/2014 10:23:53 AM
yqt says:
Pfff... Brown Sugar. I'm not saying the process was perfect. The Tories way of fixing problems was to throw them out or scrap them. There were other ways of planning, managing resources and manpower that were never thought to be looked at. An here we are today...... SCREWED.
I highly doubt you have any clue what costs associated with current contracts compare with what the operation costed before. You'd be surprised.
Not to mention alot of the current contracts are companies with foreign ownership, which should piss tax payers off even more.
This is the greatest sham committed by the so called "fiscal conservatives"
2/27/2014 1:40:45 PM
yqt says:
"I was involved heavily with the MTO yards before all the changes."

Maybe you were part of the problem???
2/27/2014 1:44:14 PM
yqt says:
"but that doesn't mean that our road conditions have suffered."

Really?? In January the MTO issued fines to all of its highway maintenance contractors in Northeastern Ontario for failing to meet standards.

You should really research before you come to delusional conclusions.
2/27/2014 2:18:35 PM
mcnews says:
@ S Duncan what's trolling??? Haha it's apparently what you spend your entire day doing on this website.
2/26/2014 11:15:48 PM
S Duncan says:
haha yes. so why do you care how I spend my day?

2/27/2014 10:12:25 AM
tsb says:
Global warming obviously means instant tropical conditions. Anything less is a lie. I PAY TAXES!!!!
2/26/2014 6:57:45 PM
zero00 says:
This is the same organization that stated it was our fault that we were on the road when a freak white out blew in and there was no where on the road to stop.
2/26/2014 2:04:53 PM
S Duncan says:
Who's fault was it?

was it their fault you were driving in foul weather, or yours?
2/26/2014 10:15:12 PM
CM punk says:
Don't worry Ranma, the minister will come and visit the roads.
Just not now.
Most likely in the spring when its election time.
2/26/2014 1:57:10 PM
Ranma says:
Having driven these roads all winter, between Dryden, Kenora and Fort Frances, you know when one contractor takes over an area by the lack of plowing, salt and sand. Also the problems with our extreme cold this year. If the snow is NOT removed quickly, it will turn into snow pack, and then into ice sheets.

Since these contractors have been fined, can they now be liable for deaths that occurred during this winter that were caused by road conditions? Ie conditions that would normally be better, but their lackluster, or rather cheap craptacular job, caused the roads to be so dangerous.

And why is the minister not driving our roads? As transportation minister, it should be in his/her job description to drive EVERY Highway in Ontario so they can get a better understanding of their job. Instead he sits in his palace in Toronto..cause remember Ontario ends at North Bay.
2/26/2014 12:37:46 PM
CM Punk says:
The Ontario government does not care for the province north of Sudbury so deal with it.

Was not Murray the minister who apologized last week for the lack of maintenance the northern highways were getting this current winter? Talk about a flip flop.

Anyways, Duncan is right, get a real vehicle.
Because nothing rides like a Hummer H2.
2/26/2014 12:01:25 PM
mnr says:
Where do I sign up to pay more taxes? I don't care if it's -25 and constantly snowing, I shouldn't be forced to drive according to weather conditions! I for one am outraged
2/26/2014 11:53:37 AM
livewire says:
Good thing they do the same around Toronto, duh I think not. Another reason to separate from the South. Are high gas prices / gas tax we are paying for are a being directed there and not here.
2/26/2014 10:13:44 AM
Dudebro says:
I dunno.. highways look plowed all the time to me.
What do people expect, bare pavement on every highway? Of course roads are going to get slippery in winter especially with these kind of temps. Its harsher conditions which mean we're going to have some inconveniences all over the board.
This country is just not as well off as it used to be and costs of any service are just ridiculous now. Get used to it, its not going to get any better.
But keep buying the smallest cars possible so its more closely resembles a death trap if you decide to go out on the highway.
2/26/2014 9:44:57 AM
Sandwiches1123 says:
I've done my share of driving in NWO for both summer and winter.

I think the biggest problem is consistency. On Highway 11 West from Shabaqua, the road is fairly well maintained up to a point just West of the Watershed. Then, the road conditions are sketchy.

Travel Highway 17 between Nipigon and Marathon as well. The Neys is usually pretty sketchy.

Heck, even closer to the City we have an issue on Highway 61 just South of Chippewa Road to Mount Forest. That section of highway is rarely plowed properly. That's also an area that has seen several accidents in recent storms.

Yes, I agree that bare asphalt cannot be expected on every square inch of highway in Northwestern Ontario, but there are certain stretches of road that are concerning.

It also seems like the contractors are using less salt, but that might be a result of temperatures. Salt is not effective below -25 Celcius.
2/26/2014 10:32:08 AM
S Duncan says:
Salt is not effective at temps below -12/13*C unless there is heavy traffic.

Consider how often our temps have ben above that and you begin to understand why the road conditions have been rougher this year.

Next the inconsistency is because of the area/territory one division must cover. If a territory is 60 miles long the trucks working at 30mph will take 2 hours to reach the end of the territory.

Closer to the garages is where conditions will be better.

If you get close to the police station, youre going to see more cops than you are further away from it. The same effect happens with plws/sanders.

Also loads of sand may not make it the full route so they might have to make return trips in order to cover their road areas.

Conditions will always vary. People have been spoiled by relatively gentle winters over the last decade, now we get a cold and snowy winter and useless clowns that cant drive are crying about the conditions.

Buy a real vehicle and keep right!
2/26/2014 11:17:05 AM
Sandwiches1123 says:
I recognized both the temperatures and salt problems so commenting upon them is akin to trolling.

Having travelled the regional highways enough over the past few years, I have seen what is being practiced. I understand that snowplows can't go 90 km/hr and effectively clear snow.

However, the snow clearing after the plows have done their job is the inconsistency I am referring to.

Often what happens is the plow will go out while the snow is still falling, plow an area and then not re-plow the first portion of the run. Meanwhile, another 2 inches of snow may have fallen during that period of time making the road unsafe.

Your notion of proximity is logical but does not apply in reality as the scenario I mentioned above is all too common in order to save money.

The local conditions vary from those beyond the City Limits. Consider Ignace has been hit by several major storms in the past few years. The regional highway conditions have been poor for driving.
2/26/2014 12:43:36 PM
S Duncan says:
Plows and sand trucks cannot be everywhere you want them to be.

Also just because you drive a car it doesnt make you an expert on roadway plowing. Imagine if a pilot tried to tell the airport runway crew how to plow the snow.

What's trolling? pointing out that salt doesnt work at temps below -12-13*C instead of the -25 you claimed it was? Thats not trolling, thats explaining why youre dissatisfied. Youre expecting different results than the laws of physics allows (much like that funny tweet of Jamies the other night regarding the weather).

If your facts are wrong so will your conclusion be.

Also you need to realize that road conditions can vary extremely depending on geographic conditions. Shady areas beside rock cuts, wind corridors, elevation changes, proximity to lake shore and natural wind breaks etc..

its not that simple to say "Its bad this year" without understanding some very simple facts (such as temp salt works) Traffic volumes are also a major factor.

2/26/2014 1:18:51 PM
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