VIDEO: Highway 1 to look like winter war zone until owners retrieve wrecked vehicles

Extreme weather conditions this week saw a large number of vehicles abandoned on the icy stretch of Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Dozens of these vehicles are still sitting off the side of the road, including a large rolled-over dairy truck with milky icicles hanging off its hatches.

How long will these stranded vehicles be making the highway’s scenery look like a winter war zone?

That’s up to the individual owners, according to Stefan Brysch, operations manager for Emil Anderson Maintenance Company.

“Generally, vehicle owners are responsible for removing their immobile vehicles from the roadway,” Brysh said. “As long as the stranded vehicles do not present an elevated hazard to the travelling public or impedes our maintenance services, the owners are responsible for organizing recovery.

“In case a stranded vehicle presents a hazard or impedes maintenance services, the province may get a wrecker recover and impound the vehicle.”

The Ministry of Transportation has introduced a ‘No Impeding Traffic Rule’ between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to Brysh. This mean that all the work to remove the wreckage has to take place in the dead of night, while the traffic volume is low.

A ditched car off Highway 1. Tyler Olsen / Abbotsford News.

Consequently, tow services in Abbotsford have been extremely busy, according to several employees at tow-truck companies.

MSA Towing has received around a dozen calls alone, according to Kirpal Banwait, a manager at the company.

“Yesterday there were 30 [abandoned] cars between Chilliwack and Abbotsford,” Banwait said. “We drive by and we can count them easily. You can see them all over.”

Dwayne Robertson works at F & W Towing with his brother Frank. He says Frank has been working non-stop since the extreme weather conditions set in.

“Off the highway [we’ve retrieved] probably a dozen and a half [vehicles],” Robertson said. “But I mean, we’ve been pulling people out of everywhere, all throughout the city, for the whole week.”

Robertson said safety is a big factor when towing wrecked vehicles off the highway. While they try not to block a lane when retrieving a car, sometimes it’s unavoidable.

“If it’s a bad spot, we’ll have another truck there, kind of as a blocker,” he said. “We all want to go home at the end of the night, right?”

Milk icicles. Ben Lypka /Abbotsford News.

Banwait says that people have to be more careful when they’re on the road.

“When [drivers] hit the brake and they lose control and the vehicle starts sliding, it doesn’t matter what you do,” he said. “[Even] the people with four-by-fours, they go into the ditches too because they think they have power behind the wheels.”

The News has reached out to Vedder Transport to find out when, exactly, the dairy truck’s creamy wreckage will be removed.

RELATED: COLUMN: How to drive on an icy highway (and, maybe, save yourself from the tailgater behind you)

RELATED: 5 to 10 cm of snow still coming to Fraser Valley: Environment Canada


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