A number of Mount Washington-bound vehicles have been towed from the Strathcona Parkway due to flat tires, some of which have been punctured by sharp rocks.
A few motorists are blaming the winter abrasive used to improve traction, but the contractor says the flats have nothing to do with the salt on the road.
“This is a fairly common misconception that we get every year from the public,” said Justin Bergers, operations manager at Emcon Services’ Island division. “People use the term ‘winter sand.’ It’s not what you would find at the beach. It’s a winter abrasive, and it’s designed to provide traction for vehicles in slippery and icy conditions, and it’s not of a size that would cause any damage to vehicles or puncture tires.”
Emcon sprinkles a 12.5 mm and 15 mm winter abrasive on highways and roads. The latter is used on the parkway.
Management at Mount Washington acknowledges that skiers and boarders are sometimes waylaid in their plans by flat tires.
Joe Scott, service writer at OK Tire in Courtenay, has seen several tires this week punctured by rocks on the parkway, including one that was ruined from rocks.
“There’s been an abnormal amount of flats from rocks that pierce tires,” Scott said.
But Bergers said neither crystal salt nor the winter abrasive would puncture tires.
“All our materials are tested during and after production for quality purposes,” he said. “All our material meets specs.”
The company, Bergers added, does not sprinkle the parkway with crush, which is used on gravel roads.
“Winter abrasive is a completely different product,” he said.