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AMEC to Provide North America's First Privately Operated Full Service Road Forecast System to Improve Winter Road Safety and Maintenance

31 October 2002


With winter fast approaching, AMEC and the City of St. John's are already positioned to deal with this winter's inclement weather and dangerous road conditions.

The City of St. John's has awarded AMEC a contract to provide detailed road condition forecasts using a Road Weather Information System (RWIS) - making AMEC the first private operator to provide full service road forecasts to a municipality in North America. AMEC will initially install in St. John's two RWIS systems on major road systems most impacted by the weather.

An RWIS incorporates a set of sensors embedded in the road, data communication links, forecast models and operational decisions to improve ice and snow clearing on a road network. The sensors include a meteorological tower to measure wind speed, direction, precipitation, temperature and barometric pressure, and a hockey puck shaped sensor embedded in the road to detect surface temperature, presence of water and/or ice on the road, chemistry of surface liquid (presence of salt) and freezing temperature of the surface liquid. All data from the sensors is relayed to AMEC's processing/forecasting centre at the company's downtown St. John's office.

Paul Mackey, Director of Public Works and Parks for the City of St. John's, said the city is looking forward to getting the RWIS up and running.

“AMEC and the City have been working together since last fall to put together a proposal that will work best for our city," said Mr. Mackey. "We see many benefits resulting from the system - specifically help in making ice control decisions in early and late winter. The RWIS will also reduce road salt usage and associated environmental and financial costs, and improve the response time for snow clearing service to the citizens of St. John's."

The technology is expected to reduce salt and sand costs by 20 per cent and reduce snow removal/salt equipment and other equipment costs by 10 per cent. According to the Transportation Association of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador could save up to Cdn $5.5 million per year using this system throughout the province. St. John's alone is expected to save approximately $350,000 in decreased salt, manpower and equipment use per winter.

Stephen Green, a meteorologist and project manager with AMEC's St. John's office, said the RWIS technology is currently used in other North American municipalities, but requires upfront equipment costs and multiple service providers to provide forecasting systems and forecasting service.

“AMEC is able to offer a unique, full-service, complete package solution," said Mr. Green. "AMEC can handle all the details involved with the engineering design and installation of the system, as well as the forecasting services. In the case of St. John's, where the weather is so temperamental and has the potential to severely impact on one's livelihood and day-to-day functions, local knowledge and expertise is invaluable."

AMEC has been providing weather forecasting services for offshore oil companies for more than 10 years and daily forecasts to the Newfoundland Broadcasting Company through its 24 hours a day, seven days a week forecasting office staffed by experienced meteorologists.

AMEC is a leading international provider of specialized services and engineering solutions for clients in manufacturing, commercial, infrastructure and process industries. AMEC applies knowledge, innovation and technology to generate value for clients throughout the life of their capital assets. AMEC has annual revenues of over US $6 billion and operates from offices in 36 countries worldwide.