Muskoka To-DAILY

MTO says Carillion snow plow penalties part of normal audit of contractors

 MUSKOKA – Penalties imposed on Carillion, the new provincial highways company plowing Muskoka this winter and receiving so many complaints about, are part of the normal audit of their work, says an Ministry of Transportation spokesperson.

But they’re not unusual or restricted to Muskoka roads service.

And he says the operators are ususally former ministry staff or local drivers who should know the roads and how to plow them.

Bob Nichols, senior media officer with the MTO, said Thursday in an email response to MuskokaTODAILY:

“Our maintenance contracts include approximately 30 different performance outcome targets related to winter maintenance.  While our contractors do an excellent job of maintaining the province’s highways, it is not uncommon that some non-conformances are assessed. 

“The purpose of a non-conformance is to compel the contractor to review and modify their operations to ensure that requirements are met in the future.  The process should lead contractors to continually strive for 100% compliance of all contract requirements. 

He said that in Northeastern Ontario, MTO has five maintenance areas maintained by four separate maintenance contractors – DBi Services (Sudbury), Transfield Services (North Bay & Sault Ste. Marie), Carillion Canada (Huntsville) and IMOS (New Liskeard-Cochrane).

“This winter has seen non-conformances to our outcome targets being imposed in all five maintenance areas leading to financial consequences being issued,” Nichols said.

“Our maintenance contracts include approximately 30 different performance outcome targets related to winter maintenance.  

“The ministry monitors the contractor’s operations to ensure they are meeting the requirements of their contract and our high standards for winter maintenance.  Through the use of automated vehicle locaters (GPS), ministry staff routinely monitors equipment response times and equipment route times. Snow accumulation, time to achieve bare pavement conditions, radio logs and police call reports, and on road monitoring are also reviewed to ensure maintenance standards are met.  If we find that an operational requirement is not met, we impose consequences in order to compel the contractor to review and modify their operations to ensure that requirements are met in the future.  

“The ministry has a regular review/audit program for all contracts as part of its general oversight of the area maintenance contracts.  These financial consequences resulted from our regular audit program of all contracts. 

“We do not release specific information on non-conformances or the specific amount of financial consequences imposed on contractors, as this is a contractual matter between the ministry and the contractor. 

“However, we can provide general examples of the types of items that can receive a financial non-conformance: 

• For failure to begin plowing once snow reaches two centimetres:

• an initial $5,000 consequence per vehicle

• a subsequent $1,000 consequence for each additional 30 minutes until corrected 

• For failure to begin spreading within 30 minutes:

• an initial $5,000 consequence per vehicle

• A subsequent $1,000 consequence for each additional 15 minutes until corrected 

“There are similar financial consequences for other activities such as circuit times, continuous operations and the bare pavement standard.” 

In response to questions about whether standards will change now, Nichols said: 

“The safety of the people traveling on Ontario highways is a responsibility that the ministry takes very seriously. Our winter maintenance standards have been developed based on extensive experience and are consistent with the best practices of highway authorities in North America. 

“This winter has seen multiple extreme winter events across the region which can make it challenging.  

“The contractors employ local people ensuring they are well trained, knowledgeable and experienced.  Most of the contractor’s employees are former staff of the ministry and former winter maintenance contractors.  They are very familiar with winter operations and local conditions. 

“Our maintenance contracts include approximately 30 different performance outcome targets related to winter maintenance.  While our contractors do an excellent job of maintaining the province’s highways, it is not uncommon that some non-conformances are assessed.  The purpose of a non-conformance is to compel the contractor to review and modify their operations to ensure that requirements are met in the future.  The process should lead contractors to continually strive for 100% compliance of all contract requirements. 

“While the ministry and its contractors strive to provide a very high level of highway maintenance it is important for drivers to adjust to changing winter road conditions.  Stay Alert, Slow Down and Stay in Control — the three key elements of safe winter driving.  Drive according to highway and weather conditions.  Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly on a slippery surface.  Keep a safe distance from trucks that are plowing, salting or sanding the road.  Check the weather and travel conditions before heading out (ontario.ca/511 or call 511).  Don’t take chances if the weather is bad. Allow yourself extra time for travel or wait until conditions improve.” 

Nichols noted that the OPP issued a news release yesterday about the need to adjust driving to the conditions – http://www.opp.ca/ecms/index.php?id=405&nid=1103

Short URL: http://www.muskokatodaily.com/?p=17813

Posted by on Jan 31 2014. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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