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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Icy roads get frosty reception

A slippery stretch of Linden Boulevard is pictured recently.

IAN HITCHEN/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

A slippery stretch of Linden Boulevard is pictured recently.

Driving along the streets of Brandon lately, it’s not uncommon to encounter extremely slick bumps and ridges.

Even going well under the speed limit, frustrated motorists are reporting slippery conditions that are leading to collisions.

One motorist who says he was travelling at 35 kilometres per hour in a residential area slid out of a rut in his minivan, narrowly avoiding a parked car but slamming into a tree.

"I don’t think this would have happened if the streets were properly plowed in the first place. It’s like the city is saving its money for a big storm," said the motorist, who asked not to be named.

"It’s convenient for the city to blame drivers and tell them to slow down, but there are two sides to the equation. There’s driving, and then there are road conditions — and the roads wouldn’t be so bad if they were properly maintained in the first place."

The collision caused major damage to the front of the vehicle. The motorist said now he will have to pay more to renew his driver’s licence and for insurance. Plus, if the vehicle is written off, it’s unlikely the insurance payout will be enough to pay off what they still owe for the old vehicle, plus the cost of buying another.

Winter weather conditions came in fast and furious this season — a major snowfall a few weeks ago, followed by an extreme cold snap.

Ian Broome, the city’s director of public works, said it seems to have caught people off-guard.

"We’re not used to getting that snow and then so cold right off the bat," Broome said. "I think it took a lot of people by surprise for driving habits."

Snow plows were out for three days following the major snowfall a few weeks ago, targeting the downtown, as well as arterial and collector roads.

Broome said the amount of snow so far doesn’t warrant a residential plowing.

"At this time, no, it’s packed down," he said.

Broome said it’s up to the driver to exercise extra care and caution.

"We’re still applying the sand and salt, but with the cold temperatures and the wind … it really shines things up," he said.

The city is evaluating areas, and where there are major ruts, crews go out and cut them down.

"We have two (sand/salt) trucks out most of the time," Broome added.

"We’re applying the same amount of sand in the areas as normal. We’re doing nothing different that way."

Salt application has been impacted by the cold and windy weather conditions.

"With it being so windy lately, a lot of times we apply the salt and the wind is blowing it off to the curb, which can’t be helped," Broome said.

Brandon Police Service Const. Ron Burgess said icy roads have "definitely played a part" in some collisions.

"Some notably on the Daly Overpass," he said. "Bridges tend to be extremely slippery because the air goes underneath them as well as over top, and the road surface there can be slicker than the surrounding roadways."

Police officers on patrol call the city to sand if certain areas are of particular concern.

"We are on call if we get complaints from the police or fire department," Broome said.

"Some problem areas we’re dealing with, the outskirts its blowing in, so we’re probably making additional runs out there with the wind."

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, the plowing debate rages on.

Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt remains convinced that city-wide residential street plowing is unnecessary.

Wyatt said he acknowledges that many streets are rutted and hard-packed, but he adds the streets are passable and the plowing is unnecessary.

"As long as you drive to the conditions of the road, they are drivable," he said. "It’s a different thing if you’re getting stuck on your street, and you’re not getting stuck on your street right now if you’re driving to the conditions of the road."

Wyatt said the city cannot be held responsible for driving accidents under these conditions.

"If you’re not in control of your vehicle at all times, it’s the driver who is at fault — not the city," he said.

» jaustin@brandonsun.com, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 12, 2013

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Driving along the streets of Brandon lately, it’s not uncommon to encounter extremely slick bumps and ridges.

Even going well under the speed limit, frustrated motorists are reporting slippery conditions that are leading to collisions.

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Driving along the streets of Brandon lately, it’s not uncommon to encounter extremely slick bumps and ridges.

Even going well under the speed limit, frustrated motorists are reporting slippery conditions that are leading to collisions.

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