VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The wintry conditions have wreaked havoc on major highways, and the B.C. trucking industry wants to see consistency in terms of response to snow and ice.
Pat English, a local truck driver, says Highway 1 from Hope to Abbotsford is particularly bad.
“From Hope in, Highway 1 is a complete sheet of black ice. There’s been no sand, no salt, no chemicals put down on the road whatsoever,” he tells NEWS 1130.
English takes issue with the conditions in Chilliwack and says he suspects the problem is with the plow drivers.
“I would say it’s inexperienced plow drivers or not enough plow drivers,” he says, adding there’s not enough maintenance being done on the highways. “People are abandoning their cars it’s so bad.”
Robert Hasell is president of Emil Anderson Maintenance, which takes care of the highway between Abbotsford and Hope. He says it was a rare scenario on Sunday where blizzard conditions were followed by quickly dropping temperatures. Even though crews were putting out large amounts of de-icers and sand, Hasell says de-icing has limited effectiveness at temperatures below -8 degrees Celsius.
“Removing the ice is a big challenge, and we are working at that 24-hours a day with everything we have,” he says.
From the BC Trucking Association, Dave Earle says once this burst of bad weather clears, his industry group plans to review how the province handles bad road conditions.
“One of the things we will be engaging with the ministry and the service providers on after with these events is to do an after-action review to say what happened, what equipment was in what position, [and] what service was in place,” he says.
He calls the conditions in the Lower Mainland an “extraordinarily difficult situation” to deal with after wet weather turned cold quickly, leaving the roads icy and harder to clear.
Even with the best efforts from ministry and service providers to make the roads safe, Earle says there’s always worry about disruptions to consumers and businesses. However, he says that wouldn’t happen unless there are highway closures lasting for days, which hasn’t happened.
Spoke w/BC Trucking Association. It’s frustrated roads/major hwys. aren’t clear. It’s stopping short of calling out contractors and the Ministry of Transportation. The Assoc. has a meeting w/the province on Friday about what could be done to improve things. Details on @NEWS1130.
— Sonia Aslam (@SoniaSAslam) January 14, 2020
When it comes to ensuring the safety of roads, the Ministry of Transportation says different contractors are responsible for different sections of Highway 1. The ministry’s Elena Farmer says the difference in conditions is noticeable depending on where you are driving.
“Different maintenance requirements are taking place on it and it’s causing some variability in what you’re seeing along the stretch. So in some areas, you’re seeing black pavement and in others, you’re seeing some slushy slippery sections, and in others some compact snow,” she explains, adding the quickly changing weather is the problem.
“The approach from contractor to contractor would be the same. It really is based on the varying conditions and where they are at,” Farmer says. “So the practice is really dependent on what is happening in that particular area.”
The Trucking Association and the Ministry of Transportation will meet Friday to evaluate the work and discuss how to improve clean-up in the future.
With files from Martin MacMahon, Sonia Aslam, and Alison Bailey