Port Mann Bridge closed as ice falls on cars
Snowfall paralyzed Metro Vancouver traffic Wednesday as balls of ice plummeted from the Port Mann Bridge, smashing into vehicles and even injuring motorists before RCMP closed the crossing for four hours.
Real estate agent Simon Lu was driving over the bridge on his way to Surrey when a chunk of falling ice shattered his car’s windshield.
“I just couldn’t believe what just happened,” he said. “I was a little bit shocked at first. I didn’t stop the car. I just kept driving.”
The 31-year-old said his next biggest concern was getting off the bridge after the smashed windshield left him with no way to see what was in front of him.
Lu added he’s hesitant to drive over the crossing again the next time it snows.
Transportation Investment Corporation CEO Mike Proudfoot, whose Crown corporation manages the bridge, said the falling ice was caused by a “very unusual combination of winter conditions.”
He acknowledged the suspended wires above the bridge deck do not have a thermal heating feature and instead rely on a coating to prevent snow and ice from accumulating.
He apologized for the “difficult day” drivers faced and added TI Corp has been speaking to ICBC about possibly paying the deductibles for damaged vehicles.
ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said there were 60 claims related to the Port Mann Bridge on Wednesday.
He said some of these were regular fender-benders, while a “good portion” of claims was due to falling ice.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter Thiessen said at least two people had been hurt before the crossing closed at 2 p.m.
Despite snow and ice wreaking havoc on drivers, Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips said there’s no chance the cold weather will last long enough to give Lower Mainlanders a white Christmas.
“What you gained (Wednesday), nature’s going to take it from you,” he said, adding there’s only rain and non-freezing temperatures in the forecast.