Over the past week, traffic has spent hours sitting on an icy Trans Canada Highway in western Manitoba as closures
During a few mild days, atmospheric conditions produced a winter rain that fell on Westman in the early afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 19. By evening a heavy snowfall created poor visibility. At points along the way westward from Carberry to the Saskatchewan border Highway One began to close late-day Saturday.
Again, on Feb. 22, the department of highways closed the Trans Canada from Brandon to the Saskatchewan Border Tuesday evening. Along the route, several vehicles were in the ditch, traffic had slowed to a crawl since extreme cold left a thick polished coating of ice on Highway One.
Wednesday mid-morning the Trans Canada opened for a couple of hours before the RCMP closed the road again.
Even by early Thursday morning, the four-lane highway remained closed.
Marian Braybrook was among other locals who usually travel Highway One to Virden. She had to find backroad alternatives to her workplace at the Virden newspaper. She was surprised by the line-up of traffic at rest on the highway. She said, “Semi's are backed up to Hargrave.” In some places both lanes were full. That’s a 15 km stretch of road west of Virden.
The Trans Canada was re-opened after highway crews sanded the surface, but it apparently wasn't safe enough as a mighty pile-up of 20 big rigs and five smaller vehicles near Alexander, east of Oak Lake, sent three people to hospital and forced Highway One to close again Thursday with no prediction as to when the area will be cleared to let traffic through.
With milder weather ahead, it's expected the highway surface will improve to become travellable.