Falling ice on Metro Vancouver bridges blamed for 67 ICBC claims on Friday
VANCOUVER -- The so-called "ice bombs" that fell from Metro Vancouver bridges Friday have been blamed for 67 insurance claims so far, according to ICBC.
The Crown corporation told CTV News it has received 41 claims related to falling ice on the Port Mann Bridge, plus another 24 from the Alex Fraser Bridge and two from the Golden Ears Bridge.
ICBC said anyone whose vehicle was damaged by falling ice should report it to the insurer's dial-a-claim line at 1-800-910-4222.
The ice has already resulted in a "significant increase in call volume," a spokesperson said in an email.
The hazard forced authorities to close down the Alex Fraser Bridge at around 10:30 a.m., trapping some drivers on the bridge deck until the bridge was reopened about an hour later.
Const. Omar Hamidi with the RCMP's Lower Mainland Traffic Services told CTV News the falling ice left some drivers' windshields "pretty much destroyed," and said the closure was necessary to protect public safety.
"We've had a lot of slush … just falling and landing on vehicles as they're driving by," Hamidi said.
One driver who was stuck on the bridge during the closure said he wished there was a better winter back-up plan so drivers didn't get trapped.
B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said staff have been monitoring conditions on both the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges, and will continue doing so until the storm passes.
"There is currently very little accumulation on the cables at both bridges," the ministry said in an email statement. "We will be investigating the combination of conditions that may have contributed to this occurring."
Officials said they expect all lanes on both bridges will be open for the Friday afternoon rush hour.
Hoping to mitigate the risk of so-called "ice bombs," the province installed a cable collar system on the Alex Fraser in 2018 that was meant to clear snow and prevent vehicles from being damaged by falling ice.
The system includes 10 collars, but they require manual operation by rope-access technicians to clear the cables.
Before those were installed, the transportation ministry used other creative approaches to clear the cables, including a chopper that was flown overhead to blow away snow and ice on at least one occasion in 2016.
The Port Mann Bridge has faced similar issues in previous years and also has snow-clearing collars on each of its 288 cables. They were installed in 2012 after about 350 vehicles were damaged from falling ice.
Prior to December 2016, at least 145 insurance claims had been filed by drivers whose windshields were struck by ice bombs on the two bridges. About 90 of those were from incidents on the Alex Fraser Bridge alone.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Allison Hurst