Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Vince Hawkes acknowledged the aggravation and stress experienced by motorists stranded in the hours-long Highway 400 closure yesterday July 20, following a collision north of Canal Road between a car and a tractor trailer that leaked hazardous liquids.
The incident resulted in a lengthy, arduous cleanup by firefighters of the flammable cleaning solvent that spilled from more than one of the transport truck’s containers.
Further compounding the traffic delays was a second major incident on Highway 400 in Vaughan that occurred while the cleanup was still underway. The southbound lanes were closed at Rutherford Road while the OPP investigated a fatal collision near Rutherford Road.
Contrary to reports that motorists were “locked in” on the southbound lanes north of the spill, the OPP and its policing partners ensured that the Highway 88 southbound exit remained open at all times. However, the exit exceeded capacity due to extremely heavy traffic volumes.
Over the course of the day, OPP officers purchased cases of water and travelled between Highways 88 and 89, providing motorists with water while checking in on them. During that time, a number of vehicles were observed travelling along the highway shoulders, impeding access for police and other emergency vehicles and making an already challenging situation worse.
“The OPP recognizes that it was a very long, stressful ordeal for those who were stranded in yesterday’s lengthy traffic delays. The spill cleanup presented challenges for the Bradford-West Gwillimbury and Barrie Fire Departments and our officers did everything within their means while dealing with not one, but two major incidents on Highway 400 and ensuring everyone’s safety and well-being”, said Commissioner Hawkes.
The OPP remained active on social media throughout the day, encouraging people with urgent needs to contact police.
The OPP is reminding the motoring public to always be prepared for the unexpected, as motorists can get stranded in traffic due to a collision or their vehicle becoming disabled. Make a habit of keeping your gas tank at least half full and always have water and snacks on hand.