RCMP reminding motorists to prepare for road conditions when driving to Mt. Washington
Published Monday, January 20, 2020 6:05PM PST Last Updated Monday, January 20, 2020 6:58PM PST
MT. WASHINGTON -- RCMP and road maintenance workers are reminding motorists that winter conditions and vehicle preparedness are key factors in how traffic moves on the road up to Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
The resort's website was hit with several negative comments from visitors who were frustrated by road conditions leading up to the popular destination on Saturday.
One person wrote that the way the road was prepared was "terrible", especially since everyone knew a storm was coming. The poster then objected to full lift-prices being charged considering delays could have been prevented.
But, Graham Jones, an afternoon roads foreman with Mainroad Contracting says that many drivers don't take the constantly changing road conditions into consideration.
"It can be bare and wet at the bottom, it can be slushy in the middle and white-out at the top," Jones says. "You need to have your good tires on and if we throw up the chain-up lights, that means throw on chains."
Jones says he's been working the road for 21 years and believes drivers are getting better. But, he does admit that he's frustrated to sometimes hear complaints.
"The guys work hard on this hill to keep it open and it is challenging," he says.
Several vehicles became stuck on Saturday and RCMP were called in to enforce the "chain-up requirements" when flashing warning signs were activated but ignored by many motorists.
"If the sign's flashing, you do have to adhere to it no matter what," says Comox Valley RCMP spokesperson Monika Terragni.
"If you're travelling between those certain dates, you do need to carry chains so that you're prepared," she says.
Terragni says two front-line members were called to the base of the parkway around 10 a.m. by the Ministry of Transportation, which was requesting assistance.
"The road conditions were very poor at that time and people needed to put the chains on their vehicles," Terragni says. "If that sign is lit-up then absolutely we do expect you to chain-up before heading up the mountain."
Mainroad's Dean Phillips also has a requests to motorists:
"Give us room to do our jobs," he says. "We understand they're trying to get up here to have some fun but if we aren't given the room to do our jobs, they're not getting up here to have their fun."
Phillips says getting motorists to chain-up is a constant battle.
"We turn on the chain-up lights and people drive right by the chain-up area," he says. "We throw those on for their safety and once those chain-up lights are on, it's law."