Hwy 17 closure being reviewed by MTO
Ontario's Minister of Transportation says he is reviewing how road maintenance was performed in light of the lengthy weekend closure of Highway 17 between Terrace Bay and Marathon.
Freezing rain and packed ice on the road resulted in closures Saturday and Sunday, day and night.
- MTO prepares for winter snow season
- MTO fines contractors for substandard highway maintenance
- Highway 17 re-opens early Mon. morning after closing near Marathon
"So I don't know exactly what happened in this case, why there might have been a specific challenge on this stretch of highway, that's why we're doing the review," Del Duca said. "But by-and-large, area contractors have done a strong job."
In October, the ministry announced that it was implementing new performance targets for contractors and hiring new staff to oversee their work this winter.
'Hiccups' at the start of the season
Those targets require the Trans-Canada Highway to be plowed every 2.2 hours in a snowstorm. The highway must be plowed to bare pavement within 16 hours of the end of a storm. (Highway 17 is part of the Trans-Canada Highway).
The president of the Ontario Truckers Association said last winter's "weather bomb" made life difficult for drivers. But David Bradley said he is optimistic that the road maintenance improvements promised by the ministry will make a difference.
"I think there's been some hiccups throughout the province with the first snow falls of the year and maybe that is expected," Bradley said.
Bradley said road closures take an economic toll on operators, costing about $80 for every hour "the wheels aren't in motion."
There's also a general economic price to be paid when goods can't be delivered on time, he added.
The Ministry of Transportation conducts reviews after every weather-related road closure in the province. The results of the Highway 17 review are expected by the end of the week. If it is found that contractors didn't live up to expectations, they could face fines.