When The Port Mann Bridge opened in BritishÂ Columbia earlier this month, it was supposed to slash commutingÂ times up to an hour.
But barely three weeks later the bridge hasÂ closed down when massive chunks of ice fell off the bridge’s high cables andÂ plummeted onto drivers below – causing injuries and thousands of dollars worthÂ of damage.
At ten lanes, the bridge is the widest in theÂ world and the second longest in North America.
But outraged drivers are saying they’d ratherÂ have a leaner bridge without the hazards.
Real estate agent Simon Lu was caught in theÂ assault of when a boulder of ice shattered his windshield.
The 31-year-old managed to get off the bridgeÂ without further incident.
Even British Columbia’s transportationÂ minister, Mary Polak, slammed the bridge’s builders, Kiewit-FlatironÂ General Partnership, insisting ‘taxpayersÂ will not be on the hook for this.’
‘We will not live with theÂ bridge in that way,’ Mary Polak said in a news conference Thursday.
‘When you purchase a product inÂ a store, when you build a bridge for $3.3Â billion, you believe that it willÂ work. You expect it will work. When it doesn’t work you seek for redress toÂ that. You seek for someone toÂ refund your money or you seek for someone toÂ resolve the problem.’
Polak said snow and ice concernsÂ were specifically mentioned as potential problems before the bridge was builtÂ and that the construction contract included specifications to address those veryÂ issues.
‘Clearly, what we saw yesterdayÂ shows that they did not meet those requirements,’ she said.
Kiewit-Flatiron GeneralÂ Partnership insisted it was working to solve the problem in a written publicÂ statement.
‘We’re very concernedÂ about theÂ recent weather issues impacting motorists on the Port MannÂ Bridge,’ said theÂ statement from Thomas Janssen, director of externalÂ affairs for the company.Â ‘With the recent severe weather conditions, it’s evident there is an issue thatÂ needs to be closely reviewed and addressed.’
More than 100 insurance claimsÂ were filed by commuters after chunks of ice smashed down onto vehicles from theÂ bridge’s suspension cables during a Wednesday snowstorm.
Two were injured and the bridgeÂ was closed for hours.
The Crown agency operating theÂ bridge will pay the deductibles of drivers who’s cars were damaged on the bridgeÂ and tolls for anyone crossing between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday will beÂ waived.
The 10-lane Port Mann Bridge took three yearsÂ to construct at a cost of more than $3 billion.
Cold weather, humidity,Â precipitation, and wind all contributed to the ice formation on top of theÂ cables.
After the ice bonds to the coldÂ cables, high winds start a vibration on the cables that knocks the ice loose.
Adding to the disaster inÂ Vancouver’s temperature fluctuations from cold to warm, causing ice to break offÂ in heavy chunks while melting.
The bridge has now reopened toÂ traffic but nothing has been done to prevent a repeat of Wednesday’s disaster ifÂ a severe winter storm hits.
Source: The Daily Mail