Slippery roads irk motorist involved in collision

A spat of accidents Friday had Williams Lake RCMP busy with fender benders and at least one driver questioning the work of road clearing crews.

  • Jan. 18, 2011 5:00 p.m.
Margaret Doering was one of the drivers who crashed Friday afternoon on a slippery Highway 20 just past the Hwy 97/20 intersection.

Margaret Doering was one of the drivers who crashed Friday afternoon on a slippery Highway 20 just past the Hwy 97/20 intersection.

A spat of accidents Friday had Williams Lake RCMP busy with fender benders and at least one driver questioning the work of road clearing crews.

At about 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Margaret Doering was travelling west on Highway 20. She proceeded through the Hwy 97/Hwy 20 intersection in her Kia Spectra equipped with winter tires and was travelling down the hill beside the Stampede grounds when she noticed a small vehicle in front of her that had hit the pedestrian barrier.

“I’m in the right lane coming down and going about 20 kilometres,” Doering says. “I started to brake a little bit and I felt the car starting to spin.”

At that point, Doering’s car spun 180 degrees and collided back bumper to back bumper with the other vehicle.

Doering says the pair were there for 15 minutes when another accident occurred.

A pick-up truck that was trying to avoid another truck (one that had stopped above the initial accident and was serving to alert traffic of the accident with its four-ways on) went up on the traffic median, slid down the median and managed to dislodge itself and drive away.

A third accident occurred a short time later when another pick-up truck hit the stationary truck.

“It slid a little bit and pushed the other pick-up truck sideways,” Doering says.

The condition of the road, she says, was such that the police had a hard time walking down the hill to the accidents and when she looked up the road surface, “I could only see glare ice/ compact snow not one grain of sand.”

In total, in a half-hour period two small cars and three full-size pick-up trucks had been involved in the three collisions.

What Doering finds incredible is that her road, Maple, was sanded but a major traffic artery did not appear to have received the same treatment.

The City is responsible for roads inside city limits and Interior Roads is responsible for highways inside and outside city limits. The Y intersection is maintained by Interior Roads, says the City.

“I can’t believe the roads are allowed to get in that condition when it’s a main road,” Doering says.

Cariboo district manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Hubner says there have been some public complaints to his office regarding road conditions but, in general, the transportation ministry is happy with the work of contractor Interior Roads. Hubner’s office oversees the road work of IRL and other contractors to maintain roads within the district area. He says his staff is proactive and is continuously monitoring the performance of the contractor.

“Not within the time frames of a government business day,” Hubner says.

“If we know we have a storm going through the area we will stagger the shifts of our staff or keep them on longer or have them work through evenings and weekends to make sure roads are maintained in a safe and passable condition.”

Roads are prioritized and under the contract there are different maximum accumulations of snow allowed. For example, highways 97 and 20 are top priority and allowed a maximum snow accumulation of four centimetres. On Highway 20 further west greater snow accumulations are allowed. The Williams Lake RCMP acknowledge the road conditions were poor due to the sheer amount of snow and the accompanying weather conditions that diminished visibility.

“Our sense would be that the snow fell for three days straight and the road crews would appear to be working around the clock to keep up with it but there was just so much snow that fell it was difficult for everybody to keep up on the roads,” says Sgt. Steve McLeod. “They were in poor condition for those couple of days.”

McLeod says when an accident occurs the RCMP alert the road crews that are responsible for the maintenance for further road work.

No representative from Interior Roads returned Tribune phone calls by press time.