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Grading Operations Mainroad experiences a high frequency of questions from the public concerning grading operations. This resource aims to answer most frequently asked questions and if you still have questions or would like to report feedback, please email or call Mainroad’s 24-hour public information hotline toll free at 1-877-215-6006.

Q. What is grading?


A. Road grading is a specific highway maintenance activity to restore the driving surface and drainage of a dirt or gravel highway. A motor grader, commonly referred to as a road grader, or simply a blade, is a form of heavy equipment with a long blade used to create a flat surface during grading. The grader operator will remove potholes and other irregularities by cutting the surface of the dirt or gravel highway or filling it with material moved back and forth across the road creating a smooth surface to establish a proper road cross section.

Q. Why does Mainroad grade roads?

A. Mainroad is responsible for servicing the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure highway maintenance contract for Central Island known as Service Area 2. As part of our highway maintenance contract with the Province, Mainroad performs grading operations on dirt and gravel highways. This maintenance ensures that there is effective drainage from the road surface and that surface irregularities are corrected resulting in a smooth driving surface.

Q. What is the difference between grading and reshaping a road surface?

A. There are two different types of grading activities that Mainroad performs on dirt and gravel highways.

Grading involves the machine blading of the existing surface to correct deformities and re-establish a smooth road surface (sometimes referred to as “tight blading”)

Grading Reshaping is a grading activity that requires the machine blading of dirt and gravel highways from ditch line to ditch line. More specifically, grading re-shaping is meant to re-establish the proper shape of the highway including the outside edges and the crown and to remove surface irregularities. Re-shaping also brings the aggregate and road fines back to the gravel or dirt surface from the side slopes and ditches. Grading-reshaping requires a deeper cut than the regular grading activity.

Q. Where does Mainroad perform grading operations?

A. Mainroad performs grading and re-shaping on all gravel and dirt highways throughout the Central Island Service Area 2. The Central Island area includes all dirt and gravel highways many of which are located in more remote locations, including Gulf Islands; Gabriola, Mudge, De Courcy and Lasqueti Islands.

Q. How many dirt and gravel highways does Mainroad perform maintenance on in the Service Area?

A. Overall, Mainroad maintains 562 separate gravel and dirt highways within the Central Island Service Area. This equates to 448 lane kilometers of dirt and gravel highway.

Included in the 562 roads, 195 of these roads are located on Gabriola, Mudge, De Courcy and Lasqueti islands. This equates to 254 lane kilometers of dirt and gravel highway.

Mainroad has four (4) Grader Units which operate year-round in the Central Island Service Area which perform grading, re-shaping, as well as snow removal during winter operations.

Q. When does Mainroad perform grading operations?

A. Mainroad performs grading operations continually throughout the year when road and weather conditions are suitable to perform grading or re-shaping. Mainroad grader operators are highly skilled and experienced to complete grading and re-shaping on dirt and gravel highways.

Q. When can Mainroad not perform grading operations?

A. There are road and weather conditions when grading operations is not practical or efficient to complete - these conditions range from weather events, road surface conditions, or environmental conditions.

Weather Events: during snow events, grading equipment is deployed to winter highway maintenance including snow removal operations while rain events prevent proper road grading or re shaping as gravel surfaces can easily wash away.

Road surface conditions: the base of the dirt or gravel highway surface is saturated from excess moisture or the road has been recently base stabilized.

Environmental conditions: A situation when environmental conditions cause the provincial fire danger rating to climb.

Mainroad 24HR Public Info Hotline 1-877-215-6006 | This FAQ was updated: January 26, 2023

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