Water-repellent coatings and mechanical ice-scrapers are in the works to prevent a repeat of last month’s ice bombing on the Port Mann Bridge.
Liberal Transportation Minister Mary Polak unveiled the expected upgrades Monday morning, with Transportation Investment Corporation CEO Mike Proudfoot.
Polak, who is also MLA for Langley, said custom designed cable sweepers will be built and installed.
The sweepers will fit around the outside of the cables, and will be lowered and raised on a winch, while scrapers and brushes remove snow and ice buildup.
The sweepers are currently under construction. A full 152 cables will need the sweepers.
In addition, tests are underway on four water repellent coatings that would also prevent ice buildup.
Tests under a variety of wind, humidity, and temperature conditions will take place.
Finally, a de-icing solution, like the one used to de-ice ships, can be applied to the cables.
Bridge builders Kiewit/Flatiron have been working on some kind of solution since shortly after Dec. 19, when numerous cars were damaged during the afternoon rush hour. A snowy day caused chunks of ice to build up on the bridge cables, then plunge to the deck. Some drivers recorded dramatic footage of ice slamming into the roofs and windshields of other cars, or their own. Drivers were hemmed in by slow-moving traffic and couldn’t dodge the ice.
“We must finish real-world testing, but we believe that the cable sweepers, coatings and de-icing sprays will be effective enhancements to the bridge,” said Scott Cassels, president of the Kiewit Infrastructure Group.
The devices will be installed as soon as possible, Cassels said.
“We were confident that the engineering team at Kiewit/Flatiron would develop a solution to ensure snow and ice wouldn’t build up on the bridge cables, and I thank them for their efforts,” Polak said.