March 26, 2014

Snow clearing delayed by unsafe conditions

As published in The Erin Advocate

A combination of soft gravel roads and blowing snow created dangerous conditions that forced a delay in clearing roads during the March 12 snowstorm, Road Superintendent Larry Van Wyck told council last week.

He was responding to a request for an explanation from resident Duncan Bull, about why many roads had not been plowed by the time people were on their way home from work.

“I was driving a co-worker home, and then myself in the vicinity of the 10th Sideroad and the 8th Line, and no plowing had been done, significantly increasing the risk of both of us getting home safely,” said Bull.

Van Wyck said the warm weather on the previous two days had thawed the top few inches of gravel roads, including the Fifth Line where a transport truck got stuck on the road and had to be towed. Erin crews had difficulty, with plows pushing large quantities of gravel to the ditches. 

On March 12, all trucks were working on hard top roads, but not the gravel roads, because of these conditions. The forecast was for blowing snow, followed by a temperature drop to −17 C later in the day.

“As the day progressed, visibility issues arose due to the blowing snow, and efforts became futile as roads were filling in right behind the plow. I had concerns about snow plows on the trucks digging into the soft gravel surface,” said Van Wyck.

“It can mean damage to the plow truck, plow and even the operator, as the truck can easily be driven over top of the plow. There was limited staff with experience in these conditions. I elected to wait until the road surface was frozen to clear the snow.”