All the weapons for doing battle with winter are being arranged and prepared at the Emcon Services armoury in Quesnel.
According to Quesnel’s regional manager Chad Mernett, the campaign to add traction to the roads will use somewhere between 1.5- to 3.5-million litres of salt brine; 15,000 cubic metres of treated sand; and 6,000 to 10,000 cubic metres of rock salt. However, no two years are the same.
“An average medium storm that lasts for eight hours and dumps six to 10 cm of snow requires 500 hours just to fight the storm and an additional 600-plus hours for clean-up; a large storm of 30-60cm you would double those amounts and add another week for cleanup,” Mernett said.
“Fuel alone for trucks and equipment is upwards of $100,000 per month,” he added.
The snow-clearing crews work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. There is more to the process than simply driving the lanes with a plow or sand truck.
Depending on the situation, roads are plowed, snowbanks pushed back to widen laneways, intersections need extra effort, signs must be cleared off so drivers can read the information, cleanup must be done to barriers and sidewalks, bridges and traffic islands take special attention, sidewalks have their own process, then all the trucks have to be regularly fueled and serviced, and there is always the forecast to watch for the next storm.
“I would say that during a storm event, roads will be slippery no matter how much material you put down,” said Mernett. When the snow is actively accumulating, crews can only do their best to get the fallen stuff off the main lanes. “Sand gets covered by fresh snows and traffic packs it in, brine gets diluted by snow as well, straight salt will only melt until the amount of liquid in snow becomes more than the salt can melt… there is no possible way to keep roads bare and wet during a storm.”
Once the snowfall stops, the traction material has a better chance to do its intended job. Even when it looks like a plow hasn’t been by in awhile, it can sometimes just be a case of re-accumulation.
“Snow has this magic ability to cover up evidence of winter maintenance,” he said.
READ MORE: Ice shark seen on Quesnel highways