Public won’t pay for Port Mann ‘ice bomb’ prevention: gov’t
Andrew Weichel, CTV British Columbia
Published Monday, January 21, 2013 11:59AM PST
Last Updated Monday, January 21, 2013 9:29PM PST
The B.C. government says cable sweepers will soon be installed on the new Port Mann Bridge to prevent another falling “ice bomb” fiasco, but taxpayers won’t be on the hook for the cost.
Last month, chunks of ice plummeted onto cars as they crossed the bridge, denting hoods, cracking windshields and injuring two people. The ensuing chaos resulted in ICBC damage claims from hundreds of drivers.
On Monday, Transportation Minister Mary Polak revealed a number of potential solutions the government is hoping to implement, including devices that will scrape snow and ice off the overhanging bridge cables before it can accumulate.
Polak said there is currently “no dollar figure” connected to the plan, but suggested bridge builders in the Kiewit-Flatiron partnership may cover the cost.
“Taxpayers will not be on the hook for this. Kiewit has been nothing but collaborative and cooperative with us and I have no reason to believe that will change,” Polak said.
Kiewit-Flatiron developed the sweepers along with the provincial government and Transportation Investment Corp. They are expected to be installed on 152 bridge cables by mid-February.
Mike Proudfoot of TI Corp. explained that the devices will fit around the outside cables and be carried up and down on a winch system.
“The sweepers are equipped with a plow-type device that is set one centimeter about the sheathing on the cable, that is followed by these four thick-bristeled brushes that sweept the reminder of the accumulation away,” Proudfoot said.
The government also said engineers are testing a silicone-based water repellant that can be applied to the cables. Another plan is to spray a de-icing solution onto them before a snowstorm hits.
The ice fiasco took place on Dec. 19, just weeks after the bridge opened, and forced authorities to close the crossing for several hours.
On Jan. 3, at least 40 vehicles were involved in crashes on the bridge. Mounties blamed the accidents on a catastrophic combination of heavy fog and black ice.
The Port Mann’s service provider, Mainroad Contracting, was instructed to apply de-icing solution more frequently as a result.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Lisa Rossington