SURREY (NEWS1130) – Ice chunks falling from the new multi-billion dollar Port Man Bridge and smashing through drivers’ windshields is not something you see everyday.

Many commuters unfortunately had to go through it earlier today.

This caused the RCMP to close the bridge for about five and a half hours.

But the planners of the Port Mann bridge are blaming the weather and not the design of the month old structure.

The CEO of the Transportation Investment Corporation, Mike Proudfoot, says it was related to a very unusual combination of winter conditions.

“This is an extreme weather situation.  It is very rare, especially in the Lower Mainland but it does occur and it has had similar effects in other cable stay bridges in other jurisdictions.  Snow can accumulate on any structure over roadways, and no bridge is immune to it,” says Proudfoot.

“We have our engineers on site and we’d like to apologize to all of the drivers for the inconvenience that has been caused today.  With public safety a concern, we have instructed our contractor to review the situation, and we’re developing appropriate mitigation in these rare extreme events,” he adds.

Proudfoot is downplaying the design of the bridge as a factor. “The bridge is designed and is absolutely compatible and completely conforming to the Canadian bridge design code for cable stay bridges. The bridge design includes provisions for these types of activities or weather situation.  The contractor is reviewing those provisions.”

He admits the bridge does not have heated cables which would help melt ice instead of having it build up.

“That’s one of the things that will be looked at.  The specialists are reviewing this, they’re conducting their analysis and we’ll have further information on that when that’s completed,” explains Proudfoot.

There is no timeline for when the provisions will be implemented. “Drivers can be sure that we’re going to be closely monitoring the situation,” says Proudfoot.