Ice bomb prevention measures being put in place on Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges

Alex Fraser bridge could be closed by “ice bombs”
While the province says it's trying to limit a repeat of the "ice bombs" that fell from the Alex Fraser bridge, the span could be closed completely if it doesn't work. Ted Chernecki reports.

Efforts are underway across Metro Vancouver to prepare for another big snowfall that may include the closure of the Alex Fraser bridge.

It’s a measure being put in place by the Ministry of Transportation to avoid a repeat of Monday’s ice bomb damage, where commuters reported damage to their vehicles after chunks of ice fell from some Metro Vancouver bridges.

“If in the professional opinion of the safety engineers, who will be on-site on both bridges 24/7 moving forward… if in their professional opinion, they believe that a closure of some or all lanes for periods of time of either of these bridges is warranted then we will move forward on that basis,” Transportation Minister Todd Stone said Thursday morning in a press conference.

Since Monday’s snowfall, ICBC has received 55 ice bomb claims that fell from the Alex Fraser bridge and 25 claims involving the Port Mann bridge.

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READ MORE: Snow falls across Vancouver, Lower Mainland, closing schools, snarling traffic

“The government of British Columbia will be covering the deductibles for those folks who were involved in those incidences on Monday,” Stone said.

The Ministry of Transportation said they have brought in additional crews to fully prepare the bridges for safe travel if snow starts to fall. Crews have been applying anti-icing solutions on the crossbeams of the Alex Fraser bridge’s towers all day, and will continue to do so throughout the evening.

The anti-icing solution, according to the ministry, will reduce the chance of ice and snow buildup on the crossbeams.

Crew member de-icing on Alex Fraser cross beam.
Crew member de-icing on Alex Fraser cross beam. Ministry of Transportation

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Snow falls across Metro Vancouver for the first time in 1,000 days

Although crews will continue to work on the Alex Fraser bridge, the ministry is still warning drivers that temporary lane closures may be necessary if heavy and wet snow accumulates on the bridge’s cables. Crews will be monitoring the bridge throughout the evening and if conditions do get too severe, engineers may temporarily close the bridge for safety reasons.

On the Port Mann, which is equipped with a snow removing collar system, technicians have been sweeping the cables to keep any accumulating snow to a minimum.

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“Most of the collars have now been reloaded up at the top of the cables. Again there’s 288 cables [and] each of those cables have 30 collars that are remote-operated,” Stone said.

However the ministry is still advising drivers that because temperatures are expected to stay around freezing conditions, the snow could be heavy and wet.

For drivers who are planning to abandon their cars in favour of transit, TransLink is running deicing trains and applying glycerin to 300 kilometres of trolley wire to try and keep their service on track.

The ministry will keep the public informed of closures on Twitter, DriveBC and digital message signs.