January 2, 2019 3:59 pm
Updated: January 2, 2019 6:46 pm

Rain and freeze makes for a slippery commute for pedestrians in Halifax

Commuters are calling sidewalk conditions deplorable. The rain followed by freezing temperatures has left thick ice in some spots, and while roads are mostly clear, the same cannot be said for sidewalks. Alicia Draus reports.

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Returning to work after the holidays can be tough, and it was made even tougher in Halifax Wednesday morning for those whose commute includes a sidewalk.

Many sidewalks across Halifax Regional Municipality were covered in thick ice as pedestrians shuffled by, or in some cases opted to walk on the road instead.

“We do some pre-salting, anti-icing before the storm even hits,” said Trevor Harvie, winter operations superintendent for the HRM.

“This one here, typical with the rain, a lot of that de-icing material gets washed away and gets mixed in with the snow so it loses its effect pretty quick.”

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There are about 100 pieces of equipment available for use to clear sidewalks around HRM, but there are nearly 1,000 kilometres of sidewalks to clear.

“We start at 7 in the morning and shift change at 7 at night,” said Harvie.

“We always have our full complement on during weather events until the work’s all complete.”

Sidewalks are divided into three priorities. Priority one sidewalks are those along main arterials and within the downtown core. The goal is to clear them within 12 hours of a weather event.

Then comes sidewalks along transit routes. The goal is to clear them within 18 hours, and last are priority three sidewalks found along residential streets and municipal walkways. The goal for those is 36 hours, but those goals are extended when there are rapidly changing weather conditions, which includes sudden freezing after rain.

READ MORE: Haligonians left dealing with snow-clearing damage

“A lot of the equipment that move from our priority sidewalks and then go to residential areas have been delayed because of having to go over priority sidewalks arterials more than once,” said Harvie.

Crews will continue to work until all areas are cleared. They are also now using a mix of salt and sand, so that in addition to aiding in melt, there will be some traction for pedestrians as well.

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