Despite the ice that covered the metropolis's sidewalks on Thursday, the city of Montreal did not use its “icebreakers” to clear them, relying instead on the good old method of spreading sand and salt to ensure safe movement for pedestrians make possible.
Posted at 4:22 p.m.
A new episode of freezing rain is expected on Friday and conditions are likely to become even more difficult, warns city spokesman Philippe Sabourin. But the 15 icebreakers will undoubtedly continue to remain in the garage, which they have not left for at least two years.
“Ice crushers are not a magic solution for icy sidewalks,” explains Mr. Sabourin. To use them, a good thickness of ice is required, otherwise they will damage the sidewalks. »
In addition, the icy surface must be fairly smooth and the walkways must be wide enough, as these rotating devices must circulate at a good speed to be effective, the spokesman adds.
“In any case, we only have 15 icebreakers, compared to a total of 2,200 aircraft for winter operations. Even if the conditions for their use were optimal, we wouldn’t be able to de-ice all the sidewalks in the city,” he argues.
According to a report from the Journal de Montréal on Thursday, the croque-glace was purchased in 2018 for around $350,000. When purchasing them, the city administration warned that these devices could only be used under very specific circumstances.
According to Mr. Sabourin, this purchase must be viewed as research and development. “We are always looking for new technologies to help us in our operations, sometimes it requires trial and error,” he says.
The maintenance teams were on duty throughout the night from Wednesday to Thursday in anticipation of the predicted ice episode and will continue to be active during the night from Thursday to Friday, indicates Philippe Sabourin.
On Thursday morning, rising temperatures caused the ice on the sidewalks to melt. However, the mercury is expected to fall Friday morning, which could pose a challenge in clearing the layer of ice on sidewalks.
“We expect things to get worse [vendredi]“We are very concerned,” Mr. Sabourin said. The ice can stick to the concrete and then there can be snow on the ice, creating a hazard. We are therefore asking people to postpone their travel and be very, very careful. »
He points out that if salt and sand are spread every 30 minutes on the sidewalks of main arteries and sloping streets, on certain residential streets there can still be between 8 and 12 hours between two passes. “We are dependent on the weather, which we cannot influence, and the time it takes to cover the entire network. »