Port Mann Bridge Accidents Snarl Traffic

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There are reports of three accidents involving as many as 20 vehicles on the Port Mann Bridge. (B.C. Government) | DriveBC

The Port Mann Bridge, which saw accidents involving 40 vehicles on Thursday morning, was not sufficiently de-iced, an official admitted hours after the commuter chaos.

The saltwater brine solution used to de-ice the bridge wasn't strong enough, Max Logan with the Transportation Investment Corp., the company that runs the bridge, told CBC News.

The solution was applied to the bridge deck at 4 a.m. on Wednesday and was supposed to last for 48 hours, according to the Port Mann's Twitter account. Temperatures dropped overnight in the Lower Mainland allowing ice to build up on the bridge.

By 5 a.m. Thursday, vehicles were crashing into each other on the slick Port Mann Bridge, which opened in December. Several collisions involving a total of 40 vehicles blocked both east and westbound lanes for much of the morning, said RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen.

One person was taken to hospital with minor injuries, said Thiessen. No charges were laid.

Crews were sent in to sand the bridge after the damaged vehicles were removed, he said.

Logan pointed out that in addition to the de-icing problem, people were driving too fast in foggy conditions, but he apologized to drivers on behalf of the bridge company.

It's the second apology in as many weeks after chunks of ice that formed during a storm fell from the bridge's cables, damaging 250 vehicles below. The bridge was forced to close for several hours.

TI Corp. has ordered the maintenance contractor to apply the de-icing solution more frequently as well as use crystal salt when necessary.

The Port Mann cost $3 billion to build and is the world's widest span.

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Port Mann Chaos - Jan. 3, 2013
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