Province looking for helicopter to prevent ice bombs on Lower Mainland bridges

Ice and snow on the Alex Fraser smashed car windshields this winter

The B.C government is looking for helicopters to help prevent “ice bombs” from falling from icy bridge cables in the Lower Mainland and damaging cars.

In a request for a standing offer released on Jan. 10, the province stated it is looking for twin-engine helicopter to clear ice and snow from bridges in the region, particularly from the Alex Fraser.

The province said it will issue requests for service as they are needed. The helicopters must be able to hover for 30 minutes and have a minimum 11,000-lb takeoff and hover weights.

Ice bombs falling from the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges in December and January led to more than 100 ICBC claims, most of them involving windshield damage.

In early December, after the first day of intense snowfall, Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the province would cover deductibles for those claims. The average ICBC deductible is $300.

More snowfall led the province to close the bridge for a few short stretches that month.

Ice bombs were a problem in 2012 as well, with ICBC paying out more than $400,000 for 350 claims.

Cable collars were installed on the Port Mann Bridge to clear ice and snow before dangerous amounts accumulated.

The province is investigating whether more de-icing agent applied to the Alex Fraser would have reduced the accumulation.

Despite the Alex Fraser and Port Mann ice issues, the province is still planning on making the George Massey Bridge a cable one.

Project manager Geoff Freer said that the microclimate in the soon-to-be built bridge’s location should make ice and snow a non-issue but that the contractor for the bridge will have to take extra precautions to avoid buildup regardless.

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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