Collisions, corrosion addressed in new snow and ice safety research

Editor’s Note: This afternoon, Gord Cebryk, who is the City of Edmonton’s Deputy City Manager, City Operations, met with news media reflecting public interest in and concern about the City’s snow and ice control pilot program. Cebryk’s comments came as a public report with the final results of research and monitoring of the program—relating to its effects on safety, infrastructure and the environment—are released ahead of a committee meeting next month. At that meeting, City Councillors will debate the future of the program. Here, for your information, is what Cebryk said, with links to reports he referred to.


 

Earlier today, Administration’s report on the Snow and Ice Pilot Results was posted online.

This report will be presented to the Community and Public Services Committee on September 4th and this report is a follow up to the one we presented on June 26.

This latest report provides a summary of the completed research and monitoring studies in relation to the effects of our snow and ice program on safety, infrastructure and the environment.

All of the completed research and monitoring studies are available online on the City’s website.

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Key highlight: bare pavement safety

While my intent today is not to go into a detailed technical accounting of the findings, I think it’s important to point out some key highlights.

First and foremost, we’re pleased to report that our focus on achieving bare pavement is resulting in safer driving conditions.

Researchers at the University of Alberta found that routes on which we achieved bare pavement saw a reduction in collisions up to 20 percent.

Furthermore, bare pavement also correlated with a decrease in injury collisions at intersections by more than 12 percent.

These results further validate our commitment to Vision Zero and maintaining a safe and accessible transportation network for Edmontonians.

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Corrosion concerns

We also recognize that some Edmontonians are concerned about the effect of brine on vehicle corrosion.

The research results related to corrosion reflect what we previously reported through a literature review—namely, that corrosion is highly dependent on a multitude of variables, and that adding a corrosion inhibitor to brine can greatly decrease any potential harm to certain types of metals.

Again, the full results of all of the studies are available online for anyone interested in accessing the findings.

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City Administration recommendation is…

Administration is recommending that Edmonton’s snow and ice program continue to include a variety of tools—including brine for anti-icing and de-icing purposes, mechanical means such as plowing and blading, and sanding—all with the intent to achieve our goal of achieving safe conditions and increased mobility.

To be clear—the goal of bare pavement was identified as a result of dialogue with Council in 2017 to achieve safe conditions and increased mobility, as well as through extensive public engagement.

Achieving bare pavement ultimately necessitates a variety of tools—depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, and snowpack—these all can be used independently or in combination.

Since launching our snow and ice pilot, we have had an unwavering commitment to data-driven decision making.

While we appreciate that any operational or policy decision will have trade-offs, we feel that the benefits of our data-driven approach outweigh any disadvantages.

These benefits include: alignment with our focus on achieving Vision Zero’s goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, and aligning with Council’s direction to enhance the safety of our roads.

Benefits also include the ability to respond to changing climate patterns, such as increased freeze-thaw cycles and more dramatic temperature swings, as well as more freezing rain incidents.

Benefits also include improved operational efficiency resulting from our ability to use the right amount of material, crews and equipment.

Finally, these new tools also allow better service standards for residents and businesses and less reliance on any one given tool—such as sand or salt.

Ultimately, our focus is on continual improvement. We recognize the need for ongoing monitoring related to the effects of our snow and ice program.

 

City Council’s decision

Nonetheless, the completed data and results presented through this report represent a significant step towards providing Council and all Edmontonians with a complete picture of the effects of our snow and ice program, as well as the benefits and trade offs.

Ultimately, it is up to Council to decide whether to continue with the use of a diverse range of tools for achieving safe driving conditions.

Our intent with this report is to help enable Council to weigh the implications of any decision based on data and facts.

We look forward to the discussion on September 4 and are committed to fully implementing the direction of Council based on their upcoming decision.


 

The report informing the September 4 debate includes three attachments—Recommended Use of Winter Maintenance Tools, Summary of SNIC Pilot Research and Monitoring Studies and Snow and Ice Control – Pilot Results – Review of SNIC Material Usage by Province and Other Municipalities, which can be found here.

For more information about the City’s snow and ice pilot, and to access the full research studies, visit edmonton.ca/snowandicepilot.

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