Port Mann Bridge Safety Plan: De-Icing, Coatings, Robotic Sweepers


Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 — 9:54am PST
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The new Port Mann Bridge hasn’t had the best track record during its first winter in operation. There are about 340 insurance claims filed since the December 19th snowstorm that include damage from a 40-car pile up and falling ice. Yesterday, the Ministry of Transportation revealed a three point plan to make the bridge safer for all – including robotic ice sweepers on the cables.

After the recent events on the Port Mann Bridge, engineers working on the project have assessed the concerns and identified solutions to help prevent snow and ice build-up from happening again on the bridge cables. They’ve come up with three ways, all working together, to improve safety. They include:

1) Custom-designed cable sweepers: custom-designed devices fitting around the outside of the bridge cables and move along their lengths to remove snow and ice before it can build up. The sweepers are currently being put together, with installation and additional testing planned this week. The sweepers will be installed on all 152 bridge cables crossing the roadway.

2) Hydrophobic coatings: four types of hydrophobic coatings (which reduce adhesion of water and ice to surfaces) are being tested, on the bridge and in labs, to confirm which may perform best on the Port Mann Bridge cables. These include water, ice and snow-repellent solutions that can be applied to the existing cable sheaths to determine how effective and compatible they are with the Port Mann Bridge.

3) De-icing Solution: could be applied to the bridge cables as a preventative measure in addition to the other two solutions. The de-icing solution would be applied to the bridge cables before a forecasted snow storm. If this sounds familiar, it’s because similar solutions are used to prevent ice build-up on aircraft and ocean-going ships. FYI – this concoction is non-corrosive and environmentally friendly, too.

Reflections of the Port Mann Bridge Bridge
Photo credit: TranBC on Flickr

Authorities are hoping that these measures will ensure a safe crossing for all. You can find out more about the safety plan and get news from the Ministry of Transportation by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

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One comment

  1. Robert Dall says:

    The cable sweepers is an awesome idea… 

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