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Rain disrupts efforts to brine roads, contributing to commuting mayhem in Lower Mainland

Last Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 12:36 pm PST

Snow and ice covered Vancouver roads on Jan. 13, 2020. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 photo)
Summary

The conditions have been causing accidents, delays and traffic problems

Callers to NEWS 1130 say they are upset with what they see as a lack of preparation by some of the major cities

City employees say the mixture of snow and rain interfered with prevention efforts like brining

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Cars have been slipping and sliding throughout the region, with the roads — even on major routes — not up the standards many drivers had been expecting.

The conditions have been causing accidents, delays and traffic problems as several callers to NEWS 1130 say they are upset with what they see as a lack of preparation by some of the major cities in the region.

However, Erin Watts, manager of street operations for the City of Vancouver, says the rain we’ve seen mixed in with the snow in recent days has interfered with prevention efforts like brining.


“Pre-treating is a little challenging in the wet conditions because we had some rain before we had colder weather and the snow. But we are essentially either pre-treating with brine if it’s dry, or if it’s more moist pre-treating with salt — just trying to get a good base layer out there,” she explains.

Despite the brining efforts, Watts says it has been largely disrupted by the weekend’s weather.

“If we had the chance to control the weather and we could say ‘could this be a perfect snowfall’ — we would have a number of cold, dry days or a number of dry days before we had snowfall. Then we could have brine out on all of those priority routes,” she says.

Crews in Coquitlam faced the same difficulty of trying to stay on top of the weather conditions.

“We were left with a lot of wet roads that we did get a lot of material on,” says Brad Lofgren, the director of public works for Coquitlam. “However, the temperature plunge Sunday night combined with the intense snowfall gave us a unique set of challenges.”


It is a similar situation in Surrey, where Engineering Operations Manager Ray Kerr insists crews are doing everything they can.

“Staff have been out around the clock working rotating 12-hour shifts since it began last Friday. So we have been putting down a lot of road salt,” he says, insisting crews are doing the best they can. “I would just ask [drivers] to be patient and cautious. Our priority is the arterial roads and major collectors so emergency vehicles and transit can operate safely.”

Kerr points out the clogged roads on the commute also affected the ability of plows to get to where they needed to go.

“As soon as you have traffic congestion, not only are people stuck in the traffic but so are our trucks. It takes time to get from point A to point B and they are getting there as quickly as they can,” he says.