Icy and flooded streets cause treacherous driving in Corner Brook

Cory Hurley
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The streets of Corner Brook turned into a slippery, sliding mess of ice and water Thursday.

The lunch hour traffic was as treacherous as the road conditions as motorists struggled to manoeuver around the ice and slush. By mid afternoon, it was pools and streams of water throughout the city that posed their own challenges.

Drivers stopped on O’Connell Drive near the Gallipoli Armoury to help push at least two vehicles up the steep, icy hill shortly after noon. The disruption backed traffic up considerably along O’Connell Drive and West Valley Road.

The problem didn’t end there. With vehicles lined up along West Valley Road, oncoming traffic had difficulty stopping as motorists came down the ice-covered stretch near Western Memorial Regional Hospital. It wasn’t long before the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary began receiving calls of collisions.

There were three immediate accidents reported, and at least another five while officers were on the scene directing traffic and trying to ensure people’s safety. Police decided it was best to close West Valley Road to traffic until it could be sanded and salted. It wasn’t until after 3 p.m. that city crews responded.

On the scene, Const. Robert Edwards said the accidents on West Valley Road were minor, with no apparent injuries reported. He characterized the collisions as fender benders resulting from slippery road conditions.

Paul Blake was on West Valley Road with a shovel Thursday afternoon, clearing his driveway of ice and slush, preparing for the expected drop in temperature in the evening.

Blake said the city should have had the snow removed from the roadway in anticipation of the warm temperatures and rain in the forecast. He thinks a lot of the mess, and definitely the road closure, could have been avoided.

“It’s not going to be very good later (Thursday) and overnight when it all freezes up,” he said.

There didn’t appear to be a major impact on homeowners in the area as traffic was open on lower West Valley Road, and homes were still accessible via side roads. However, that also posed a continual challenge for officers directing traffic as vehicles were able to access the street around the road blocks.

It was a similar scene on many other streets.

Throughout the city, heavy equipment was pushing slush and water off roads as the running water ran along the hilly terrain and pooled in many areas. City crews were also stopped in many areas, working with shovels to help clear the water and slush and increase drainage. Motorists had to contend with numerous deep puddles, some covering entire stretches of roads.

The Corner Brook Public Library closed at 5 p.m. due to bad road conditions, and Corner Brook Regional High School cancelled a parent information session Thursday evening.

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender said there appeared to be no major infrastructure damage throughout the city. He said the lunch-hour traffic congestion posed a problem for city equipment to respond to the trouble areas, so much so that police assistance was requested.

The mayor said the three major problem areas of standing water were on two sections of Humber Road and one on Broadway.

Although city crews were continuing to try to remove water from city streets, it was expected there would be a problem with ice overnight night and into today.

 “Obviously, we are going to have another mess,” Pender said. “... We will try to scrape off what we can before it (freezes), but once it freezes we will have to salt and sand. Hopefully, we will get it all done overnight before people have to get to work.”

Highways throughout the western region were reported as slippery and slushy by the provincial Department of Transportation and Works. An advisory was issued east of Corner Brook, near Shellbird Island, due to flooding in the eastbound lane.

Along the Northern Peninsula it was the other extreme — motorists were advised to stay off the roads from Plum Point to St. Anthony with whiteout conditions being the biggest concern. Equipment was taken off the highway from Anchor Point to St. Anthony because it was too stormy to operate.

Temperatures in Corner Brook were forecasted to drop as low as -10C overnight, according to Environment Canada, and remain near -11C today. Flurries are also expected today.

Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital, Corner Brook Public Library, Corner Brook Regional High School Department of Transportation and Works Environment Canada

Geographic location: Corner Brook, West Valley Road, St. Anthony Humber Road Shellbird Island Northern Peninsula Plum Point Anchor Point

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Recent comments

  • Glad I Wasn't There
    March 14, 2014 - 19:51

    What a municipal debacle.

  • Corner Brooker
    March 14, 2014 - 06:04

    If the catch basins were kept open & the snow banks cut back away from them, at least the water would have had some place to run in to rather than what happened. That work should be an ongoing routine rather than trying to do it the day of bad weather.

    • John
      March 14, 2014 - 13:29

      Totally agree. Public works is the author if its own madness.