Snow clearing crews spring into action

Snow clearing crews jumped into action as snow was dumped on the East Kootenay early Tuesday morning.

Arne Petryshen

Crews from Mainroad and the City of Cranbrook Public Works department jumped into action as snow was dumped on the East Kootenay early Tuesday morning.

Al Sander, general manager for the East Kootenay Mainroad, said his crews have been busy plowing the roads and laying down salt and gravel.

“I think the roads are in pretty good shape as quickly as could be expected in that sort of weather,” Sander said. “You’re always going to have a couple of spots that are a little rough or a little icy, but I think for the most part it was handled quite well.”

Mainroad is in charge of keeping the highways in good shape, while the City of Cranbrook Public Works department is in charge of city streets.

Derrick Anderson, Public Works manager, said the snow is sticking to the road because of the snowfall followed by the cold weather.

“We had all of our crews going as soon as the snow started flying (Tuesday) morning at 5 a.m.” Anderson said. “We had crews in. It snowed really heavy so we had to basically start over again on our main streets.”

He said on Wednesday that they were into the secondary priority routes.

The snow in the downtown core will be cleared out today.

On Tuesday, Anderson said had four underbelly plows, a grader and a loader going.

The city is responsible for all the roads in the municipal limits except Van Horne Street.

Public Works gets weather reports taken by the Southeast Fire Centre from instruments at the Cranbrook yard. The report paints a more local picture of the incoming weather than the more regional forecasts of Environment Canada and the Weather Network.

“Our weather conditions are far different from what Kimberley gets, from what Elkford gets and all the rest,” he said.

He added they are waiting for the salt and sand that has been dumped on the roads to start loosening up the ice. It begins to work around minus 8 degrees celsius.

Mainroad’s Cranbrook shop covers as far as Moyie to the south, just past Wardner to the East, Wyclyffe to the west and Wasa to the north.

Sander said they try to send out trucks for pretreatment if the timing and temperatures are right.

“We run a full 24 hour shift out of the Cranbrook location,” he said. “So there are trucks continually available and they are ready to go.”

Mainroad is governed by specifications put forward by the province in terms of what’s expected.

Mainroad has eight trucks in the area, including two of the newer, bigger plow trucks.

Sander said after a snowstorm there is usually three days of cleanup, mostly  intersections, remote side roads and road shoulders.

Sander said going by most of the forecasts, there will be less storm events, but the ones that we will have will be more serious ones.

“Some of them could be rain, like they were last year — which is the worst thing for winter,” he said, adding that is quite difficult to deal with. “After a storm like this, when we get all the snow and ice off the roads, there is generally some salt residue left. That helps us going into the next storm because that helps keep the snow and ice from sticking too bad.”

He said when you get rain, it washes everything off the road.

“And it’s impossible to get material on the road fast enough in that transition time,” he said. “You could have 100 trucks and you couldn’t get it out fast enough in those conditions.”

Sander wanted people to be aware the plow trucks are out there and to give them as much room as possible so they can do their work as quickly as possible.

“Have a little patience when you’re behind a plow truck, because if the traffic lines get too long, as soon as it can safely, they will pull over and let the traffic go.”