Drivers in Metro Vancouver shouldn’t expect every highway to be plowed down to bare asphalt in the coming days as the impact from a series of expected snowfalls is compounded by chilly arctic air.
The impacts of Sunday’s winter storm were still being felt during the Monday morning commute as drivers struggled to navigate parts of the Trans-Canada Highway between the Iron Workers Memorial and Port Mann Bridges.
“Today’s bad. It doesn’t look that bad but everyone’s slipping and sliding everywhere,” said one truck driver who got stuck and had to call for a tow.
The Ministry of Transportation said snow continued to fall along that stretch of highway even after it had stopped in other places and that’s why there were so many choke points through Coquitlam and Burnaby.
For a period of time on Monday, the Grandview Highway exit from Highway 1 had to be closed because so many vehicles were spun out and unable to make it up the ice and snow-covered incline.
“Compact snow is very much a part of commuting in the winter. It’s not going to be bare and black,” said Ashok Bhatti, the ministry’s executive director for the south coast region. “And with this arctic front that we’re going to see over the next few days where it’s going to be even colder, that’s going to be even more the case.”
Bhatti says salt and brine are less effective in the exceptionally cold temperatures expected in Metro Vancouver in the coming days so crews will be using sand to add traction in snowy and icy areas.
In North Vancouver, RCMP tweeted a photo of a crash scene and said that a responding Mountie was injured when another car lost control and crashed into her cruiser.
“Speed limits are for ideal conditions. In this case, right now, conditions are not ideal,” said Cst. Mansoor Sahak. “It’s very slick, it’s very icy and there’s lots of snow so we’re asking people to slow down.”
The officer had to be treated in hospital for what are being described as minor injuries.
Sahak said the driver who hit the officer’s car received a ticket for driving too fast for the road conditions.
Within municipalities road conditions vary significantly.
Most major routes are being maintained but the same can’t be said for side streets which are ice-covered and treacherous in many areas.
“We don’t do treatments on residential side streets unless it’s an access to a hospital, care facility or a school,” said Amy Sidwell, street operations manager with the City of Vancouver. “If you’re in one of those areas, we’re really wanting people to make sure they have the proper tires for their vehicle and that they’re only doing essential trips.”