As the days grow shorter and the weather becomes colder, crews are preparing to keep the Lower Mainland’s highways safe for winter driving.
Mainroad Group, the company contracted to maintain provincial highways in the Lower Mainland, is responsible for 1,430 km of provincial highway lanes.
General manager Darren Ell said an “El Nino” winter is forecasted this year, so “we’re not expecting as much freezing or snow conditions as we have in the last few years.” However, as anything is possible, crews will remain ready around the clock to “tackle those conditions as they occur.”
A warmer winter season brings with it other risks, such as heavy rainfall and high wind conditions. Mainroad crews will be monitoring drainage systems to ensure water is flowing off the highway, and checking on areas where trees may be more prone to wind damage in order to clean up vegetation as it comes down.
If a motorist sees a hazard on a provincial highway, they can call Mainroad’s 24/7 communication office at 604-271-0337 to report it to maintenance crews.
Should snow and freezing rain come despite predictions, Mainroad is well-stocked. Among the four separate salt depots they hold in the Lower Mainland, they have 2,000 tonnes of salt stored. Ell added that, should it come to it, their supplier has an additional 60,000 tonnes set aside. “We’ve never had salt issues in the past,” he said.
This year, Mainroad has brought back the tow-plow, which is pulled behind a standard plow truck. It’s much more effective than the standard machine, Ell explained. A standard plow clears 3/4 of a lane, and a tow-plow can clear two lanes of traffic at once.
Ell also warned motorists to expect more echelon plowing — when several plows clear the highway in a staggered line — as it allows crews to clear more lanes with less vehicles, making it more efficient. Ell reminded drivers to “be patient” and to not attempt to pass the plows.
“Let the plow do its job,” he said. “Stay back.”
Tips on sharing the road with snow plows:
- Maintain a safe following distance. Remember that snow plows have limited visibility — operators can’t see directly behind their vehicles.
- If two or more snow plows are clearing multiple lanes on a highway, do not try to pass. When you try to pass, you are putting yourself, the plow operators and other vehicles on the road at risk.
- Remember that the road in front of the plow hasn’t been plowed yet. Slow down and be patient. When it is safe to do so, the snow plow will pull over and let you pass.
For more safety tips on winter driving, motorists can go to shiftintowinter.ca.