Discussion: Minster of Transportation Todd Stone addresses members of the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce.

Discussion: Minster of Transportation Todd Stone addresses members of the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce.

Mitigating TCH closures

A device that looks like a refrigerator is expected to reduce avalanche-caused waits on the Trans-Canada Highway

A device that looks like a refrigerator is expected to reduce avalanche-caused waits on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Todd Stone, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, described new avalanche mitigation measures planned for Three Valley Gap during a presentation June 9 to the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce.

Stone talked about existing ways to control avalanches there which include “going up in a helicopter and shoving bags of explosives out the window. What could possibly go wrong?” he quipped to laughter.

The challenge with that method, he said, is helicopters can only fly when it’s safe – not at night or during inclement weather.

He said that’s why the Three Valley Gap section of highway has always had long waits.

The new technology involves putting the fridge-like structure on the top of avalanche paths. It is then controlled remotely.

“The fridge door opens – something comes flying out and explodes.”

Stone said it’s estimated the average length of highway closures with the new technology will be 60 per cent less.

“If it’s an average of eight hours, we expect to cut that by more than half. It will have an impact on communities on both sides.”

Each of the ‘refrigerators’ is worth $25 million, Stone said.

 

Salmon Arm Observer