Brandon’s first snowfall of any significance this season forced the closure of First Street on the North Hill as Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation searched to find crews to put salt on the road.
Traffic had to be rerouted to 18th Street, "due to extremely slippery conditions," Brandon Police Service Const. Ron Burgess said. Other unconfirmed reports indicated Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, which is responsible for snow clearing and sanding work on that road, had difficulties finding crews to resolve the slippery situation.
"It was bad enough that vehicles couldn’t get up the hill so they had to close it until the salt trucks were brought out and (the road) was brought into condition that they could drive on it again," Burgess said. "It’s not closed very often."
Arthur-Virden Progressive Conservative MLA Larry Maguire said the road shouldn’t have needed to close and blamed the recent Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation decision to cut overnight shifts for road crews for putting motorists at risk.
"The people that phoned me said this was a very poor way for the highways department to save money, when public safety is involved and we haven’t even had a snowstorm yet," Maguire said. "They couldn’t get a crew out there until 7:30 in the morning?"
A Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation spokesman offered the following statement, sent to the Brandon Sun by email.
"In Brandon, the snow overnight did result in traffic problems on First Street from Kirkcaldy Drive and Braecrest Avenue, which required road salt," the spokesman wrote. "This work was completed by approximately 7:45 a.m."
The Brandon Police Service sent an email to the media at 8:14 a.m., informing media outlets that the road had been reopened.
Environment Canada reported a trace amount of snow and precipitation fell in the Brandon area, but warning preparedness meteorologist Natalie Hasell said there were no reports of freezing rain. Instead, it was more likely that the snow that fell melted and froze on the pavement.
Maguire also received calls from people about another valley where Highway 10 crosses the Souris River south of Brandon at Riverside.
"There were semis that couldn’t climb the hill there and they had to get sand trucks and a tow truck," Maguire said.
"We’ve got a valley there and it’s a major transportation route south, with lots of people travelling to go to work from Brandon to Boissevain and vice-versa. This is certainly jeopardizing safety for an NDP spending addiction. Instead of taking care of their own management so they have money to deal with these things, they have a spending addiction and don’t know how to deal with these things and look after the safety of Manitobans."
The MIT spokesman replied with the following written statement:
"Boissevain staff were out patrolling Highway 10 and upon determining the conditions at Riverside, trucks were sent and conditions were addressed within the hour," the spokesman wrote.
"Highway 10 south was never closed."
Maguire said Highway 10’s importance as a major trade link with the United States should help convince the government crews need to clear the road of ice and snow in a timely manner.
"It’s a very bad stretch of highway to start with and then you add these conditions where we aren’t taking care of them properly because they want to save money," Maguire said. "This is the Prairies. We have ice and snow. Why are we putting people’s lives in jeopardy?"
While there was no freezing rain on Monday morning, Hasell said there could be this morning, with a 60 per cent chance of rain forecasted.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 30, 2012