Numerous delays and closures have plagued the highways around Golden over the past several weeks and HMC Services Division Manager Greg Ehman has been receiving plenty of feedback from the public, both good and bad.
“I’ve heard mixed reviews. I’ve heard ‘incompetent’, ‘don’t know what you are doing’, all the way to ‘holy smokes that must be really tough for you’,” Ehman said.
HMC is the maintenance contractor under provincial contract for Highway 1 from the Yoho National Park boundary to Revelstoke and south to Brisco along Highway 95, along with numerous other side roads outside the jurisdictions of towns. This excludes routes that go through National Parks, which are under federal jurisdiction, but according to Ehman, the relationship between Parks Canada and HMC is excellent.
“We have a fabulous reciprocating agreement [with the Parks], that if something happens in either one of our areas, we just help. The challenge that we have is simply the traffic volumes on the Trans-Canada Highway, particularly on summer weekends.”
Another significant challenge is the first response when an incident occurs. Often the location and details of an accident come in very vague and it is up to HMC to act quickly with limited information. First responders on the scene have a big challenge. All at once, responders are charged with managing traffic, treating injuries of those involved in the accident, contacting the RCMP, and preserving the scene for future investigation.
According to Ehman, something that could help make things run smoother is if motorists started tuning their radio stations to FM93.1, as they are instructed to at various points along the highway.
“Most people, simply want information and they want to talk to a person…Every vehicle that stops [to talk to roadside personnel], even if it’s just 30 seconds…if you are getting 500 cars an hour, you can imagine how difficult that is.”
Motorists stopping to ask for information, along with plenty of rubber-necking, led to a two kilometre backup along Highway 1 at Moberly Branch Road on Sept. 4, despite the fact that HMC was able to keep two way traffic moving.
Ehman says HMC is open to constructive feedback on how things can improve, but hopes that motorists will also take into account the problems and challenges that they are faced with on the highways.