Fog and icy conditions are likely factors in a series of minor crashes on the Port Mann Bridge early Thursday that caused what one commuter called a “traffic nightmare.”
Emergency crews responded to multiple crashes involving about 40 vehicles on the slippery span in both directions, as traffic crawled across the bridge amid thick fog around 7 a.m.
RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said in a tweet that the bridge remained open but there were obstructions in both directions. Commuters were advised to avoid the bridge if possible.
Thiessen said only one person was taken to hospital, with minor injuries, despite the mayhem. He said no charges are expected.
“Absolute traffic nightmare,” tweeted Greg Harper along with a picture of the crash chaos.
By 7:30 a.m., Drive B.C. reported that the main collisions had been cleared from the eastbound lanes, though traffic was still backed up along the highway as far as 160th Street.
Other problems continued to mar the morning commute, including a stall in the bridge’s eastbound HOV lane at about 8 a.m.
By 8:15 a.m. three westbound lanes were clear, with crews still working to clear debris from others and salting the road.
Transit was also impacted.
TransLink reported the #555 Port Mann Express was rerouted to Surrey Central SkyTrain station because of the crashes and traffic jam. That service returned to its normal route around 8:30 a.m.
Spokesman Drew Snider said Coast Mountain also provided a shelter bus to those drivers and passengers affected by accidents on the bridge.
Many roads across Metro Vancouver remain slick and icy Thursday morning after the temperature dipped well below zero overnight; motorists are advised to use extra caution on all roads and bridges.
There were more accidents along Highway 1 that hindered traffic en route to the bridge.
It was the second time in a month since the new $3.3-billion bridge project officially opened in December that bad weather caused chaos on the world’s widest span.
On Dec. 19, the bridge was shut in both directions for hours after “ice bombs” falling from the overhead cables smashed dozens of vehicles. At least two drivers were injured and ICBC received more than 60 claims for damage due to incidents on the bridge by that afternoon.
The Transportation Investment Corporation, the Crown corporation that runs the bridge offered to pay drivers’ deductibles and waive toll fees for those affected that day.
After that debacle, B.C. Transportation Minister Mary Polak insisted that contractor Kiewit-Flatiron General Partnership would be held responsible for fixing the problem.
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