West Island municipalities find ways to deal with excessive ice
It’s only when you dig into the ice on Elgin Crescent in Beaconsfield that you realize just how thick it really is.
“It’s up to 10, 12 inches of ice on the road,” said grader operator Chris Morrison, who works for a subcontractor clearing snow for the City of Beaconsfield.
Until Thursday, Elgin was one of the iciest streets in the city. Much of it accumulated during the latest blast of winter weather, which hit Montreal area last weekend.
Snow, rain and sudden fluctuations in temperature have created unusually icy conditions this winter, which has been hard on residents.
“It’s pretty treacherous,” said Ken Lepage, who was out walking his dog on the icy street near Morrison and his crew. “My father-in-law actually slipped and broke a vertebra.”
Montreal municipalities and boroughs, including ones on the West Island, have had trouble keeping up with all the ice.
“We’re all stuck with the same problem,” explained Beaconsfield Public Works director Marie-Claude Desrochers. “[The rain and snow] fell, it froze, and now we’re stuck with it.”
There is so much ice that workers like Morrison say it’s been tough this season and that it’s taking them longer than usual to clear all the snow and ice. To cope, workers in some municipalities use ice breakers, while others, like the subcontractors in Beaconsfield, modify their snow-clearing equipment.
Morrison has special blades that look like a comb installed on his grader.
“These are called comb blades,” he explained. “They’re a bit easier to sink into the ice.”
But even with that, it’s not easy. Clearing a two-kilometre street can take hours because the blade can snap if a worker tries to rush.
The work is hard on equipment operators, too.
“Just the vibration from hitting the ice, it’s almost [like] having a small car accident every few seconds,” Morrison said.
Beaconsfield Public Works management says that only 25 kilometres are left to be de-iced, and the agency expects to complete the work by Saturday if its equipment holds up. Should the work be completed, Beaconsfield may share its equipment with other areas.
“We’re going to talk about that, that’s for sure, because we’re all stuck in the same problem,” Desrochers said.
Residents like Lepage, though, just want it all to be over.
“[It’s] just been a long winter; we’re all looking forward to getting out of it,” he said.
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