A pile of rubble blocks the roadway, a mudslide cuts off access to a nearby highway, an earthquake crumbles the route you take to work…
During Emergency Preparedness Week, you may be thinking about how such scenarios could affect your world.
At the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, what some people consider an emergency is generally part of our regular business. Every day, we plan and take steps, knowing how critical the highway system is to British Columbians who need medical care, supplies and services. The economy and people’s well-being depend on a safe and reliable highway system.
When a flood, slide or spill happens on our highways, we work with our maintenance contractor partners to re-open the route as soon as possible.
The ministry’s contracts with highway maintenance companies require the companies to meet strict standards for emergency preparedness and response, and to be ready to respond. Maintenance contractors have contingency plans, just in case, to handle different situations like being short-staffed. They are also able to move people and equipment from other places, or hire local equipment and equipment operators.
Critical routes are pre-identified, so it’s understood which highways will be cleared first. Depending on the situation, the ministry might work with other agencies. For example, during last summer’s fire season the ministry supported the Ministry of Forests. In a widespread disaster, there is a command structure, where the ministry works with municipalities and other government agencies, as part of the Provincial Emergency Program.
Each ministry work unit has a business continuity plan, so that if its office building or staff members are impacted by a disaster, it can continue to deliver critical public services. Keeping essential services going is the priority.
Should things take a turn for the worse on BC’s highways, the ministry and our transportation partners are ready. For us, Emergency Preparedness Week is every day!