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Size of road grit sending Cowichan drivers to windshield-repair shops

Andrew Crane thinks the size of the pebbles in this anti-ice road grit is contributing to a rash of dinged windshields, including his own. - Peter W. Rusland
Andrew Crane thinks the size of the pebbles in this anti-ice road grit is contributing to a rash of dinged windshields, including his own.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Andrew Crane scoops a mitt of road grit from a Baggie, cursing the mixture's pea-size pebbles he says chipped his van's windshield.

"These are causing the windshield damage. This is the worst I've ever seen grit like this," the Cobble Hill resident said, reading his $120 repair bill from Speedy Glass.

"Why this size? I call it gravel, rather than grit."

But highways spokesman Jeff Kidd called it sand, prescribed under provincial specifications.

"We do not put gravel on the roads," the Mainroad South-lsland Contracting manager said.

"Winter sand is 12 millimetres in diameter. We're staying within the ministry's specs. It's all the same as last year," he noted of the street-safety stuff. "That's what they want; that's what they get."

Valley roads also get salt, plus a salt-and-water blend of brine, to melt icy conditions.

"We use everything in the bag. "

Kidd said Wednesday he hadn't had a single call about vehicle damage from stones or other materials.

But Speedy is getting plenty of calls," said Leah Lowrey.

"When it snowed recently, we were really busy with what they were putting on the roads."

She estimated her shop handles some 15 auto-glass repairs daily. Some are due to stones spit by logging trucks, Lowrey noted.

Windshield chips have also been cracking in the recent cold snap. And some windscreens need multiple repairs costing up to $45 for two, $10 each thereafter.

"Lots of chips are irreparable," Lowrey said of windshield replacements.

ICBC does not pay for chip repairs, but some private insurance firms do, she added.

"Fortunately, I had (BCAA glass) insurance coverage," said Crane, a frequent Cobble Hill-Duncan driver, "but I'm sure lots of people out there don't."

Speedy did two repairs on his Caravan's windshield.

"I also have lots of stone-chip marks on the paint they can't get out."

Mainroad's number for road information is 1-604-815-6056.

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