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Congested roads during storm made it a challenge for city crews

Delta Police urge drivers without proper winter tires to stay off the roads when snow is accumulating
Delta Police attend to an abandoned vehicle on Ladner Trunk Road Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s snow turned Delta into a winter wonderland, but made for a nightmarish commute for many motorists.

“Thank you guys for your preparations. Thanks to the fast action of the city, I have only been in traffic for seven hours and counting,” said Stefan Casie, commenting on the City of Delta’s Facebook page.

“Yes, lots of people trapped. Five hours now my daughter left Tsawwassen Mills and is at Nordel Way and it is gridlocked and still not home,” said Brandi Morin.

Another motorist asked what was being done to open the Alex Fraser Bridge saying his two family members have been stuck in traffic for eight hours.

Steven Lan, the City of Delta’s director of engineering, said all 17 of the city’s plow and salting trucks were on the roads Tuesday morning.

And brining of the city’s main roads, that is, spraying salt water onto the pavement to delay ice formation, began on Sunday and was completed on Monday.

But what happened Tuesday afternoon was traffic. The congestion on the roads, particularly on the Alex Fraser Bridge, also stranded the city’s trucks in the jams.

In some instances, Delta police were able to escort plow trucks out of the traffic jams so they could continue their work.

“Every (vehicle) was out,” said Lan, noting the city made a mistake on its Facebook page when it said the snow was falling in the evening when it should have said afternoon. “We actually had trucks out, starting in the morning in anticipation of the snowfall. All of our trucks and our entire fleet was out, ready for the snowfall.

“There was a great deal of congestion that happened, coming off from the bridges. There was just a lot of gridlock in the system. We did the best that we could. We had all of our equipment out.”

A major cause of the jam ups was the complete closure of the Alex Fraser Bridge in both directions, just after 8 p.m., because of “several vehicle incidents,” according to DriveBC.

One northbound lane opened about an hour later but all southbound lanes remained closed until just before 1 a.m., when one southbound lane opened.

Crashes or vehicle incidents also clogged lanes on the Pattulo Bridge and near the George Massey Tunnel.

Lan hadn’t yet heard why the Alex Fraser Bridge closed, referring questions to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

DPD Acting Insp. James Sandberg said there were no serious injuries resulting from the collisions and fender benders but noted all major roads were affected.

He said that North Delta seemed to be affected the most, with the Scott Road hill, near 96th Avenue blocked, while the bottom of Nordel hill was also clogged because of a jackknifed semi-truck.

As well, the 72nd Avenue hill was blocked after cars spun out and likewise Highway 10, eastbound approaching Scott Road because again, cars couldn’t navigate the grade. This in turn delayed response by snowplows.

“The salt and plow trucks were out but their effectiveness was negatively impacted because the general public was not prepared for it,” Sandberg said.

Tires should be in good condition with lots of tread, he said. Some vehicles were able to get up the hills and some weren't and the difference was traction, he added.

“So if you don’t have tires on your car that are going to have traction in this weather, I would say that … it’s probably not safe for you to be out there with that vehicle.”

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