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Delta ready for winter road conditions

The engineering department says preparation work has been completed for the upcoming winter season for snow and ice control as well as flood preparedness for Boundary Bay and Beach Grove
Municipal trucks had a hard time reaching trouble spots due to earlier than expected snowfall resulting in traffic chaos in the region on Nov. 29, 2022. Delta Optimist file

The city is ready for the upcoming winter season.

Engineering director Steven Lan recently provided council an update on Delta’s 2023/24 winter season and flood preparedness, which will follow last year’s plan when it was updated and approved.

The snow and ice control policy outlines priority and secondary routes where pre-wetting, salting, sanding and snowplowing are carried out as long as poor conditions exist, while Delta’s independent weather forecaster (Weathernet) provides an annual outlook for the winter season, allowing the engineering department to prepare for snow and ice operations.

A staff report notes that this year’s forecast indicates the region may experience warmer winter temperatures than the last three years. As such, the Lower Mainland may experience less snow events compared to the last three years.

The report also notes that the Ladner works yard is fully stocked with 1,300 metric tonnes of salt. The North Delta works yard is also stocked to full capacity with the same amount.

A contract with Mainroad Contracting guarantees up to an additional 2,500 metric tonnes of road salt for this season which, in conjunction with what’s currently available in Delta’s sheds, provides a total salt availability of 5,100 metric tonnes.

That amount should be sufficient as historically, Delta has used up to 4,500 metric tonnes of road salt during extreme winters, but uses between 2,500-and-3,000 metric tonnes in an average winter, the report notes.

In addition to road salt, engineering operations continues to make its own salt brine. Salt brine is used to pre-wet the priority routes in anticipation of snow and/or ice events. The city has two specialized brine trucks that can be used to apply the salt solution as and when required.

Steps have been taken to ensure staff coverage during the holiday season. Staff have implemented a night shift truck driver seven days a week to reduce response time for snow and ice control from Dec. 1, 2023 to March 2024. When not salting or brining, the night driver will provide routine inspections on major roads and overpasses while performing other duties.

Meanwhile, the city’s emergency response protocol line was updated. It’s a direct phone line for police, fire and ambulance to request site-specific snow clearing to provide access during emergency situations.

Salting trucks will divert from their regular duties to assist with emergency services requests.

The “Winter Road Conditions” phone line (604-952-3820) is available for the public which has a voice message, updated every four hours during a snow storm event, with the current weather situation and Delta’s response levels.

As far as who is responsible for the various Delta routes, the engineering the province is responsible for Highways 17, 17A, 91 and 99 including the George Massey Tunnel and the Alex Fraser Bridge.

Provincial jurisdictions are looked after by a contractor, Mainroad Contracting.

Delta crews look after the west side of Scott Road in North Delta and the City of Surrey is responsible for the east side of Scott Road.

When it comes to Ladner Trunk Road, Delta crews look after the section between Highway 17A to Highway 91 in both directions. The province’s contractor looks after Highway 10 from Highway 91 to Highway 1.

As far as flood preparedness in Boundary Bay and Beach Grove, the flood risk to the communities is highest during the King Tides periods which occur during the winter months when tides can reach or exceed 5.0 metres at Point Atkinson

The city follows a staged flood preparedness and response plan which sets various stages in preparing and responding to possible flood events. At the beginning of each winter season, beach access points are secured with lock blocks and large sandbags as required to provide temporary flood protection. As well, additional sandbags are provided at select locations for area residents.

According to the engineering department, the first expected period of very high tide will be from Dec. 14 to 19.