Winter storms have forced one of Manitoba's busiest highways to be shut down three times this season. In fact Highway 75 was closed for over twenty-four hours during the latest storm earlier this week, stranding motorists in communities like Emerson and Morris.
Larry Halayko is the Executive Director of Construction and Maintenance with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, he says heavy snowfall amounts and poor visibility were the main causes behind the highway closure. We asked if the construction zone near St. Jean also played a role in the decision.
"The bridge construction that we do have going on there, with the one lane of traffic closed down, does plug up a little bit because we do have the Jersey barriers separating traffic but once the wind dies down it takes us about an hour to get that opened up so that's not the main contributing factor."
As for how MIT determines when it's safe for snow plowing crews to head out and reopen the highways, Halayko says operators will hit the main roads like Highway 75 once there is reasonable snow accumulation however work will stop if visibility is poor, creating hazardous situations.
"The staff are trained and they have to assess, it's really on a case-by-case situation."
Halayko says it's been a busy winter for crews and hopes the cold weather will offer a bit of a break from heavy snowfall, noting these snow storms have taken a chunk out of the $35 million winter budget.