Manitoba's 2 main highways reopen but conditions still treacherous
Highway 1 reopens after closure from Winnipeg to Saskatchewan border
Two of the province's busiest highways — the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 75 — and portions of other roadways began reopening Wednesday afternoon after a snowstorm forced closures the day before across southern Manitoba.
A blowing snow advisory that was in place Wednesday afternoon for parts of southern Manitoba has since been rescinded by Environment Canada.
Des dizaines de camions sont à l'arrêt à l'entrée Est de Portage-la-Prairie sur la Transcanadienne. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rcmb?src=hash">#rcmb</a> <a href="https://t.co/RGznBrCrxV">pic.twitter.com/RGznBrCrxV</a>—@PierreVERRIERE1
Conditions are expected to improve through Wednesday afternoon and into the evening but drivers are urged to use caution — and heed signs about road closures.
Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway, was closed from the Saskatchewan border east to Winnipeg Tuesday and reopened just before 3 p.m. CT Wednesday.
The westbound lanes of the highway where it meets Highway 26 were briefly closed Wednesday evening between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. due to a motor vehicle collision.
Earlier in the day, CBC reporter Pierre Verrière, who was stuck just outside Portage la Prairie, described the highway as a "total whiteout."
"It's miserable out there," he said, adding there is a long lineup of semi-trailers pulled to the side of the road.
RCMP told Verrière to head into Portage, park the car and wait.
Highways in southern MB are extremely icy. Use caution - especially when approaching other vehicles. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/slowdown?src=hash">#slowdown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rcmpmb?src=hash">#rcmpmb</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mbstorm?src=hash">#mbstorm</a> <a href="https://t.co/JboyBdYk7L">pic.twitter.com/JboyBdYk7L</a>—@rcmpmb
Highway 75, the main route between Winnipeg and the United States border, was also closed Tuesday and reopened Wednesday at about 3 p.m. CT.
But even before the closure was lifted, many people were still risking travel on Wednesday.
The blockade arms that prevent vehicles from going down the road just south of Winnipeg weren't closed but signs alerted drivers to its closure.
Shawn Vidal, who works for a renovation company, was part of a crew headed to Morris early Wednesday when they saw the closed sign for Highway 75 and pulled over in St. Norbert.
"It's crazy out here. I think it's not very safe to drive, but we don't really have a choice," he said.
It's crazy out here. I think it's not very safe to drive but we don't really have a choice.- Shawn Vidal
The crew made its way to St. Norbert from Winnipeg's North Perimeter, taking an hour to do so — about twice as long as normal. Along the way, they saw jackknifed semi-trailer trucks, about half a dozen cars in the ditches and a number of crashes.
Despite that, Vidal said the group was going to try out Highway 75, even if the sign said it was closed at the time.
"If the highway's supposed to be closed, the gate should probably be closed," he said. "There's semis and traffic going that way, so we're going to give it a shot. If we have to turn back, then we'll turn back and try again tomorrow."
The key will be to go slow and easy, Vidal said, adding he's glad he didn't have to go out on the roads on Tuesday.
Collison - <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MBHwy101?src=hash">#MBHwy101</a> at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MBHwy7?src=hash">#MBHwy7</a>. No injuries, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rcmpmb?src=hash">#rcmpmb</a> on scene. Please use caution in area. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mbstorm?src=hash">#mbstorm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/staysafe?src=hash">#staysafe</a> <a href="https://t.co/dGzZ70X9dh">pic.twitter.com/dGzZ70X9dh</a>—@rcmpmb
When the storm was in full force, he was warm inside his house, doing crosswords by the Christmas tree and drinking coffee.
"I would rather be doing that today," Vidal said.
The storm dumped as much as 30 centimetres in many places, leaving many roads and highways closed and stranding travellers.
- 'White knuckler' snowstorm slams southern Manitoba
- Winter storm closes Manitoba highways
- Closure of Trans-Canada forces travellers to hunker down for the night
- Winnipeg snow route parking ban starts tonight
The small western Manitoba town of Virden played host to dozens of people Tuesday night after the Trans-Canada Highway was closed.
Tundra Oil and Gas Place, the town's arena and community centre, was opened and makeshift beds were set up after all hotels were booked solid.
Among those making the most of the unexpected layover was actor and musician Tom Jackson and his band. They put on an impromptu concert Tuesday night and Jackson told CBC "there is a lot of us making new friends here in Virden."
On Wednesday morning, the stranded travellers were treated to a free breakfast at the community hall. The town put it on with food donated by a local grocery store.
Early Wednesday, a spokesperson for CAA Manitoba said anyone calling for help will need to buckle down for a while. There is currently a four-hour wait.
"Like everyone, our trucks need extra time to get to call locations today," said Roz Pulo.
Information on road and highway closures in Manitoba is available on the province's closure website.
Snapshot of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/weather?src=hash">#weather</a> we’re dealing with at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Emerson?src=hash">#Emerson</a> border. Pls be careful out there! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MBstorm?src=hash">#MBstorm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Manitoba411">@Manitoba411</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CAAManitoba">@CAAManitoba</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MBGovRoads">@MBGovRoads</a> <a href="https://t.co/PTdPOy1zD2">pic.twitter.com/PTdPOy1zD2</a>—@CanBorderPRA