Length and placement of Golden Ears Bridge cables could be why the bridge from Langley to Pitt Meadows hasn’t been hit by ice bombs.

Ice bombs don’t plague Langley’s Golden Ears bridge

The Fraser River crossing was the only cable bridge to avoid ice bombs this winter.

by Katya SlepianBlack Press

It cost the province $1 million to clear ice and snow from the Alex Fraser Bridge this winter, according to the Ministry of Transportation.

But somehow, the Golden Ears Bridge – running between Langley and Pitt Meadows – avoided the problem.

Heavy ice and snow this winter contributed to bumping up the figure for the Alex Fraser from last year, when the province spent nothing.

“There was no monitoring and closures required due to snow and ice on the cables or crossbeam on Alex Fraser Bridge in 2015/16 [and] therefore there were no costs,” said transportation ministry spokesperson Danielle Pope.

More than 100 drivers reported ‘ice bombs’ falling from the Alex Fraser and smashing car windshields in December, according to ICBC spokesperson Sam Corea.

This led the province to close the bridge several times during the course of the winter.

The ministry has explored helicopters and cable collars similar to the Port Mann Bridge.

According to Pope, the cable collars worked well, but the ministry will explore other options before deciding on the next steps.

Operating the cable collars on the Port Mann Bridge cost TI Corp $4 million this winter compared to $300,000 the year prior.

More than 50 people reported ice and snow damage from the Port Mann this winter, despite collars installed in 2012 that were said to have solved the issue.

In contrast, the Golden Ears Bridge has not been affected by the unusually snowy winter.

The bridge, which is operated by TransLink, was not closed as a result of weather conditions this year.

“The Golden Ears Bridge has been in operation since 2009 and, to date, has not had any issues with snow and ice falling from cables onto bridge traffic,” said TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan.

Bryan said that the lack of snow falling from the Golden Ears could be attributed to three factors.

Unlike the Port Mann and the Alex Fraser, neither cables nor towers cross the bridge overtop of traffic, he said.

Instead, both towers and cables run along the sides, Bryan said. There are also fewer cables and the cables themselves are shorter than those on either of the other two bridges.

“Together, these features mean there is much less risk of snow and ice accumulating and falling onto the roadway,” said Bryan.

Nevertheless, a maintenance coordinator patrols the bridge every 30 minutes during severe weather conditions, he added.