mi-pei-snow-plow

Contractors say it will take a while to get used to the new arrangment, but with the snow already on its way they'll have to sort it out soon. (CBC)

The sand is loaded, the trucks are fueled and private plow operators are ready to hit the road when the snow flies, but this winter they'll also be responsible for sanding the roads.

The P.E.I. government said it's hoping that by merging snow removal and sanding into one service the Island's snow-battered roads will be safer.

The Robert Ghiz government also said the new streamlined service will help save the Island close to $300,000.

"This system will allow the snow contractors to take care of when the sand should go on," said Robert Duffy, with the P.E.I. Road Builders Association

The province used to hire separate contractors for plowing and sanding, but there was often miscommunication between the contractors.

"You always used to hear horror stories about sanders sanding a road and then the plow coming by a half an hour later and throwing it all in the ditch," said Darren Chaisson, director of highway maintenance.

The province said its new plan is more efficient and safer.

"In many instances the sand will be applied right after the plow goes by so the roads will bare off much quicker than they have in the past, for sure," said Chaisson.

The province also changed who clears what roads.

Now, the provincial trucks will take care of all the main highways and private contractors will do most of the secondary roads.

The shift means any company that can't plow and sand, didn't get a contract, leaving about 40 operators without an agreement with the province.

"Quite a few of them were hired by the snow contractors. Myself, I hired one of the guys that did sanding in my area to drive one of my new sand trucks. So I never heard too much fuss about people that were put out, but I'm sure it did effect some people," said Duffy.