The windshield of one driver after crossing the Alex Fraser Bridge on Dec. 5.

UPDATE: Falling ice smashes windshields on Lower Mainland bridges

Province says it will cover any damage caused by falling ice or snow on the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges

The Transportation Ministry is investigating if deploying de-icing systems sooner would have reduced the amount slush or ice falling onto vehicles as they crossed the Port Mann and Alex Fraser bridges during Monday’s heavy snowfall.

Earlier on Monday, TReO officials had warned small amounts of slush might fall down with a splat – but Transportation Minister Todd Stone said that the weather system developed much faster than staff had anticipated.

“The original forecast for this snow event in the Lower Mainland was for some very light flurries early in the morning and they were supposed to have tapered off by mid-morning,” said Stone. Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley had received two Environment Canada snowfall warnings each on Monday.

The Port Mann episode was less severe than the original 2012 ‘ice bombs’ incident – which led the province to install a snow-clearing system for the cables on the Port Mann Bridge as a result.

However, Stone said that the ministry records had never shown more than a few claims resulting from ice falling off the Alex Fraser Bridge.

“Where we have seen, in previous years and very occasionally, some snow fall down onto the bridge deck it has tended to come from the centre beam of the vertical columns which are in the middle of the  bridge,” said Stone, noting that the de-icing agent is applied to that location.

According to ICBC senior communications specialist Sam Corea, ICBC saw a 13 per cent increase in calls answered by their Dial-a-Claim service from Dec. 5 last year – from 3,848 calls to 4,366 calls. Almost 80 per cent of those calls came from the Lower Mainland.

The auto insurance corporation received 30 claims connecting to falling ice or slush on the Alex Fraser and 10 related to the Port Mann. According to Corea, most claims are for windshield damages. Stone said that the province would cover deductibles for those 40 claims but couldn’t confirm the cost to the province. However, ICBC said that average deductible costs for ICBC-insured drivers is $300.

But photos of smashed windshields once again circulated on social media.

In a statement, ministry assistant deputy minister Patrick Livolsi said that while ice accumulation on the Alex Fraser Bridge was rare, the province was in contact with one driver who had reported damage.

“We are also looking into reports of a small number of vehicles being damaged on the Port Mann Bridge.”

The Port Mann’s design has cables that cross over above the lanes of traffic, while the Alex Fraser has large concrete crossbeams where snow and ice can accumulate.

“We will continue to actively investigate these reports and we will use this information to identify any improvements that can be made for the future,” ministry assistant deputy minister Patrick Livolsi said, adding the ministry will closely monitor both bridges.

He said the Port Mann cable sweepers clear snow from the cables before ice can form, limiting the size of ice that can accumulate and significantly reducing the chance of damage to vehicles.

The province is urging affected drivers to call 604 424-8240.

The 2012 incident resulted in ICBC paying out more than $400,000 in damages after receiving 350 claims for vehicle damage.

@katslepian

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

The Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation held its inaugural Grand Gala in November 2019 at Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This year’s event will be held online. (Submitted photo)
Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation holds virtual Grand Gala

Second annual event takes place online on Nov. 20, raising funds for local hospitals

Chilliwack has several railway crossings that can be hazardous to inattentive and unprepared drivers during the fall and winter months. (Martin Duperre photo)
CN Rail urges Fraser Valley drivers to be careful around railway crossings

The danger level jumps up during icy, windy fall and winter months causing a spike in accidents

Abbotsford author Katrina Wiggins has been shortlisted for the Page Turner Award eBook Award for her young adult novel, Blind the Eyes.
Abbotsford author shortlisted for literary award for young adult novel

Katrina Wiggins’ book Blind the Eyes is about climate crisis and monsters

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Langley resident Sean Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Sean Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read