By mutual agreement with MTO

MANITOULIN—Late last week, it was announced that the DeAngelo Brothers Services ( DBi ), an American company that currently holds the road maintenance contract for the Sudbury area (including Manitoulin) with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), would cease to hold this contract as of May 31, 2016.

The current contract for DBi began in June 2012 and was due to expire in 2023.

The Expositor asked an MTO spokesperson whether the ending of the contract was related to the winter maintenance issues for which DBi was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars following last winter’s maintenance schedule. MTO media spokesperson Gordan Rennie explained that, “the Ministry of Transportation and DBi Services have mutually agreed to end the contract for the Sudbury area. This is a mutual decision between the two organizations based on what is best for the province, the travelling public and for DBi Services.”

[socialpoll id=”2309958″]

“The ministry issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on November 16 for the Sudbury area to have a new area maintenance contractor in place by June 1, 2016,” Mr. Rennie continued. “The new RFP provides an opportunity to make some enhancements to the area maintenance contract.”

When asked if the MTO required to buy out the remaining portion of contract to end DBi’s relationship, Mr. Rennie explained that both MTO and DBi Services have mutually agreed to end the contract on May 31, 2016 with no exit costs to either party.

Mr. Rennie explained that DBi Services also provides highway maintenance services for the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway in the Windsor Area under contract to the Windsor-Essex Mobility Group. However, the Sudbury Area Maintenance Contract is DBi’s only highway maintenance contract with MTO. “The mutual decision to end the Sudbury contract does not impact any other work DBi is doing in Ontario.”

Mr. Rennie told The Expositor that all qualified contractors will be eligible to submit a proposal for the new contract.

“As we tender new contracts, we are always looking at ways to improve them and deliver better service,” he said. “This new contract will also take into account the Auditor General’s review and the ministry’s own internal review.”

“The new contract will be more prescriptive compared to the previous contracts that allowed more discretion to the contractor to determine how to meet the ministry’s performance standards,” Mr. Rennie continued.

It is these very contracts that upsets Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, who told The Expositor that the end of the DBi Services contract, eight years early, “goes to show what a lot of Northerners already knew—that their work was not validated.”

The MPP said that all contractors need the correct equipment and proper training to service Northern roads. “Them (DBi) stepping away gives us a chance to get a better provider, but we’re still dealing with contracts and a lack of equipment. Regardless of who gets the contract, they will be following provincial standards and those standards are the problem.”

Mr. Mantha said he would continue to lobby the Minister of Transport for a change to the way it handles its winter roads maintenance contracts.

With the announcement that DBi has ended its contract come June “we still have a final winter of someone who doesn’t want to do this, who has bailed out, and I will be asking the minister what he intends to do to ensure that this area is not affected by this.”

The new Sudbury contract requirements will include: more frequent clearing of Highways 17 and 69 in the Sudbury area; dedicated road patrollers during the winter and during transition periods; winter readiness requirements for trucks and operators; spreaders to be equipped with pre-wetting capability; modified salt/sand risk sharing; more frequent plowing and salting for freeway ramps; changing how the MTO and the contractor share costs for sand, salt and anti-icing liquids, making sure we are using the right material, at the right time, throughout the winter; risk-sharing for de-icer application costs; annual completion date for pavement markings; no tow plows on the four lane sections of Highways 17 and 69 and tow plows will only be permitted on two-lane sections of highways in the Sudbury area to clear passing lanes.

Also, similar to the new Kenora contract, the new contractor will require prescriptive equipment complement analysis; stipulated quantities for sand/salt/anti-icing liquid; and best value procurement (adjusted bid price based on proposal score).

The new contract will be in place for June 1, 2016 and will cover summer and winter maintenance services and minor repair work for highways in the Sudbury area. It also includes maintenance of Local Road Boards roads in unincorporated areas, such as Dawson-Robinson.

The previous contractor was Belanger Construction Ltd. of Chelmsford before losing the contract to DBi in the last bidding cycle.