Weather Sensors Installed on Port Mann Bridge

By: Daniel Rattanamahattana on January 15, 2013

The operators of the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver appear to have learned the lessons of winter after two weather-related collision incidents occurred on the structure in less than a month.  The Transportation Investment Corporation (TIC) is installing electronic sensors on the bridge to better monitor weather conditions, and reduce the likelihood of collisions.

The first incident involved ice chunks falling from the cable wires suspended over the bridge, which damaged dozens of cars.  The second incident was the result of inadequate maintenance and led to more than 40 cars being damaged after black ice formed on the bridge.  Both incidents lead to significant auto insurance claims, and left the bridge closed for several hours.  TIC spokesperson Max Logan says the company recognizes they must learn from these incidents to protect the public in the future.

Immediately following the events of Dec. 19, TIC established a weather-monitoring and bridge-closing protocol.”

Logan says the tower sensors are scheduled to be operational by the end of January, and will monitor wind patterns, mixed precipitation, and formations of ice chunks on the wires in order to warn TIC of risky conditions.  Logan says the sensors installed on the bridge’s roads and approaching ramps will require more time for installation, but once the road sensors are operational TIC can monitor the road temperatures before wet conditions freeze into black ice.

TIC has also updated its maintenance agreement with Mainroad Contracting so that crews are on hand to monitor weather conditions and maintain road safety.  Prior to the January 3 incident, Mainroad would spray saltwater brine on the bridge every 48 hours to reduce the likelihood of freezing conditions.  Logan says they will now spray the roads every 24 hours whenever the temperature falls below 2 degrees Celsius.

The Port Mann Bridge has only been open to the public since December 1, and cost over $3.3 billion to complete.