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New Avalanche Control Methods to Reduce Closures Near Revelstoke

As a means of reducing the number of winter-time closures on the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap, the Government of B.C. will be implementing a new avalanche-mitigation system in the near future.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone made the announcement on Monday that remote-control explosive devices will be constructed to initiate avalanches as a means of addressing and assessing unstable snowpacks.

The new avalanche mitigation system will not be dependent on good weather conditions or daylight to operate, allowing for authorities to more adequately maintain the highway during the winter months. The ministry anticipates the new system will be installed in 2016.

“Improving highway reliability and mobility is a major component of our 10-year transportation plan, B.C. on the Move. In addition to continued four-laning of the Trans-Canada, we also want to shorten the time that people are stuck in their vehicles during a road closure and open up the Trans-Canada as quickly as possible, to get people and goods moving again. That’s why we are bringing in this new technology for avalanche mitigation work, which will significantly reduce road closures,” said Stone.

Right now, the current avalanche mitigation system involves dropping explosives from a helicopter. Although effective, this method can only be utilized during the daylight and when weather allows. Due to such constraints, the highway is often shut down for more than 16 hours at a time during the winter.

“I value safety upgrades along the Trans-Canada, to help local residents, truck drivers and travellers arrive safely to their destinations. Along this section of highway, weather conditions can switch from rain to snow very quickly, and it’s not always easy to know what speed you should be travelling. I am happy to see that new digital speed limit signs will be introduced to help drivers stay safe on the highway,” said Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.

In addition, the ministry has implemented a new traffic light signal system called Automax, as well as 20 new digital variable speed limit signs along Highway 1 between Revelstoke and the Perry River Bridge near Malakwa.

Both measures are expected to help alleviate congestion through Revelstoke and Golden. For example, Automax will detect a line-up of vehicles at an intersection and will adjust traffic light timing accordingly to help traffic flow more easily.

Meanwhile, the 20 new digital speed limit signs will be linked to sensors in the road’s surface that will notify drivers accordingly of a safe speed to travel in adverse weather conditions.

These new measures were a recommendation from the ministry’s 2014 Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, as well as the government’s $25-million-per-year Roadside Safety program.

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