The province is confident that they will be able to manage ice and snow on the soon-to-be-built George Massey bridge, according to project manager Geoff Freer.
The new bridge is expected to have a cable system although the exact design of the bridge won’t be known until spring. Construction is expected to start in 2018.
“I don’t think there’s any perfect system in the world – even bridges that don’t have cables at times have ice falling off the structures,” said Freer.
Both the Port Mann and the Alex Fraser bridges have had issues with ice and snow falling off cables and centre towers. In 2012, just weeks after the Port Mann opened it closed again due to ice and snow smashing car windshields. Since then, cable collars have been installed to mitigate the problem although this December has, according to ICBC spokesman Sam Coreah.
The Alex Fraser, which does not have cables passing over the vehicle deck, has seen 95 ICBC claims made this month due to ice and snow damage.
According to Freer, the long length of the bridge and a desire not to impact the Fraser River below it is spurring the government’s push for a cable bridge.
“We are trying to keep piers out of the river. That minimizes impact to fish and the environment,” said Freer.
Cables on the proposed Delta to Richmond bridge won’t cross over the vehicle deck, Freer said but added that the province is taking precautions regardless – including asking the contractor to pay special attention to any ice and snow accumulation on the bridge’s high points.
“As a minimum they’ll have to install the cable collars similar to the Port Mann bridge… it has the best system in the world for this and we’re going to make a few improvements on that for the George Massey project,” he said.
Freer said that the location of the new bridge should make ice and snow accumulation less likely.
“Because we’re closer to the ocean it’s kind of like the Lionsgate Bridge – it’s also got suspension cables and hanger cables on it – but it has less collection of snow and ice, mostly because it’s closer to the ocean,” he said.
“As you go up the river you get into locations where you get the right combination of downriver winds from the interior and storms coming in from the west. You have to get just the right conditions to get the right snow and ice that will stick on snow and ice.”