About the Project
Bear Pass is a 62 km stretch of Highway 37A connecting the District of Stewart and Canada’s northernmost ice-free port with the rest of BC. The corridor is highly susceptible to frequent avalanche activity, causing significant traffic delays due to highway closures. The highway is closed for approximately 100 hours each year and operates at a considerable avalanche hazard level for an average of 600-900 hours per winter. Avalanche forecasting, monitoring, and clearing activities are critical to maintaining this important transportation link. Prior to this project, these important activities had to rely on historical data and manual event reporting.
PBX was engaged by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) to design and oversee the implementation of an Automated Avalanche Detection System (AADS) to improve avalanche forecasting, decrease closures and event response times, and to enhance safety along the corridor. PBX led a multi-disciplinary team to address the complex challenges of installing infrastructure in remote, mountainous terrain.
Two AADS sites were deployed to monitor high-activity terrain above Highway 37A. The AADS detects avalanches on the monitored slopes and automatically advises MoTI’s Avalanche Program of the event. The system provides automated, timely, and accurate information on avalanche event metrics that are invaluable for supporting more efficient avalanche response, resulting in significant regional benefits, including decreased maintenance crew dispatch response times and road closure durations, as well as increased safety through more accurate event forecasting and risk assessment.
Because of the proven effectiveness, planning for expansion of the system is underway.