Friday, July 17, 2009


As a system for moving people, the privately owned, single-occupancy motor vehicle has to be the most costly, dangerous, dirty and inefficient way (one "accident" can clog the main highways for hours). Given viable alternatives, who wouldn't want to switch?

The following headline kind of sums up the logic of car-centric cities:

Scott Gardner, the Hamilton Spectator
A city trapped in traffic paralysis
Mid-afternoon 403 crash chokes Hamilton roads for hours

One mid-afternoon accident on the eastbound 403 Thursday literally turned Hamilton into a parking lot.

Major arteries across the lower city and Mountain ground to a halt in a chain reaction of congestion as traffic first backed up on the 403, then onto Main Street and then throughout the city as police closed the highway and then Linc.

Hours after the 2 p.m. accident that left a London man in critical condition, routes across the Mountain were still backed up for kilometres as drivers tried to get across the city. The Linc was closed to stop traffic reaching the 403. And police were urging Toronto-bound motorists to take the Linc, Red Hill and QEW to get around the stopper in the bottle.

But even that didn’t help as a pair of accidents on the QEW created a perfect storm of congestion.

The worst was at rush-hour last night when traffic was backed up for miles. Some reported seeing people relaxing on their cars and talking to their parked neighbours.

Hamilton police closed eight on-ramps to prevent traffic from getting onto the eastbound lanes of the 403. It shut down ramps between Upper James Street on the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway and King Street on the 403, just a few kilometres west of the accident scene.

Those caught behind the accident were backed up and brought on to the Main Street on-ramp in front of The Hamilton Spectator.

"Everybody is just parked on the highway and we're trying to get everybody moving," said Staff Sergeant George Narozniak.

To make matters worse, the Niagara-bound lanes of the Queen Elizabeth Way in Beamsville were closed for 90 minutes following two separate collisions at about 6:30 p.m. One involved a collision between a van and a tractor on the South Service Road, between Bartlett and Sann Road. A person was airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital in serious condition.

And a third accident in Stoney Creek also caused serious injuries. Two vehicles crashed head-on at about 4:30 p.m. on the South Service Road, near Jones Road. One person was initially in critical condition, but improved last night. Two others were taken to hospital. The South Service Road was closed to traffic for a short time.

The London, Ont., man was ejected from his pickup truck when it rolled over during the Highway 403 accident, just before 2 p.m. Witnesses say his truck rolled a few times on the highway near the York Boulevard on-ramp and landed on its roof. He was taken by ambulance to the Hamilton General Hospital. He was in critical condition this morning.

A taxi cab and a SUV were also involved. The drivers were not injured and the vehicles sustained minor damage. The accident is now being probed by the OPP Traffic Support Unit.

The crash caused two other accidents. A tanker-truck and a pickup truck collided on the 403 shortly after the first crash, just west of the accident scene. There were no injuries. An OPP officer rushing to the first accident lost control of his cruiser and crashed into a ditch on Highway 6, between Highway 5 and Highway 403. The officer received minor injuries.

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