The province is testing out cable collars on the Alex Fraser bridge starting Sunday as a potential method to prevent ice bombs falling on cars.
Between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. from Sunday, Jan. 29 to Thursday, Feb. 2, the Ministry of Transportation is dropping 40 cable collars to see if they would be effective in clearing snow from the bridge. Collars will first be dropped from a man lift and then from the top.
“We’ll use the man lift at first and only drop it partway down the cable to see which size works the best,” Parker said. “If it doesn’t work don’t want collar stuck partway,” highway operations executive director Norm Parker said.
The Alex Fraser ran into trouble in December and January after dozens of drivers reported having their windshields smashed by falling ice and snow. Ice bombs became so dangerous that the province was forced to close the bridge for short stretches in December. The province said it would pay for the ICBC deductibles of anyone affected.
According to Parker, the ice bombs fell off the cables rather than the cement ‘H’ towers in the centre of the bridge.
“It was wind and the amount of snow and type of snow that fell along with the ambient warming of the cables,” said Parker.
Cable collars are already in place on the Port Mann Bridge, which has a history of ice and snow falling off the cables and damaging cars.
Over a hundred vehicles were damaged by ‘ice bombs’ and ICBC paid out more than $400,000 for 350 claims in 2012 before the transport ministry installed the cable collars.
The collars on the Port Mann were paid for by the contractor and the province doesn’t have estimates for how much they cost nor how much cable collars on the Alex Fraser could cost.
However, Parker said that because the cables on the Alex Fraser are smaller and at a flatter angle, the province will have to experiment with a variety of collar sizes.
In mid-January, the province put out a bid for a helicopter to help clear ice and snow off Lower Mainland bridges.