Road conditions in winter or even late spring, especially in shady spots on Chilliwack hills, can be icy.
Flashing blue-light markers were being installed at 10 locations Thursday as a pilot project to test the technology for Chilliwack.
The blue reflectors are solar-powered and can be seen from about a kilometre away, said Gerry Hlookoff of ATS Traffic.
“This product, the PATeye, has been used all through North America, Europe and New Zealand, and it was actually invented in New Zealand,” Hlookoff said.
“We are doing a test pilot with the City of Chilliwack where we are installing 10 units to help them detect corridors that have problems with freezing and black ice.”
The road markers were being installed Thursday, embedded into the centrelines at several locations.
“Road conditions can differ greatly from one area to another on any given day. In order to help drivers stay aware of changing road conditions, the City of Chilliwack is testing a new road safety device that will notify drivers of the potential for icy road conditions,” according to city officials.
Road test sites in Chilliwack:
• Chilliwack Mountain Road
• Hope River Road
• Old Orchard Road
• Marble Hill Road
• Teskey Way
• Promontory Road
• Vedder Mountain Road
The roads were chosen for testing because they are known by city staff for their potential for icy road conditions.
“They’re embedded in the asphalt flush so if you do have snow plows the blade goes right over top,” Hlookoff said. “This is the first generation that detects ice and moisture.”
In some spots, the blue reflectors will be in full view of the city’s traffic cameras, which will assist the Operations Department when implementing snow removal and ice control procedures. For example, if blue lights are flashing in one area, crews may want to make that location a priority for re-salting.
Although spring is around the corner, some roads may still see some frost due to shade. This will enable staff and drivers to experience the device in action prior to next fall/winter. City staff will be looking at its durability, and ability to withstand wet weather.
Each site will include signage to educate drivers about the blue flashing lights. City officials will also seek community feedback over the coming months to help gauge the PATeye’s effectiveness.