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By Rachael Williams, The Hamilton Spectator
After five days of traffic nightmares, the Burlington Skyway has reopened.
The Ministry of Transportation made the announcement on Monday at 3 p.m. after removing four damaged vehicles from the bridge, making temporary repairs, and removing all debris.
All lanes opened at around 6 p.m. after workers paved a 60-metre stretch and repainted the road lines.
According to the MTO, permanent repairs still need to be made, including the fabrication and installation of a new steel beam to replace the one that was damaged in Thursday’s crash. That work will be done at night over the next two months to ensure any lane reductions will have a minimal impact on traffic.
Astrid Poei from MTO said it is too early to estimate the cost of damages, but it could run into the millions.
“This is not a cheap endeavour,” said Poei.
The Toronto-bound lanes of the Skyway were closed on Thursday afternoon after a dump truck with its box open struck the overhead truss of the bridge.
Sukhvinder Singh Rai, 34, of Brampton, faces impaired driving charges and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 22.
In the aftermath of the crash, traffic was diverted to Eastport Drive, the Red Hill Valley Parkway, the Linc, Burlington Street and Fruitland Road. David Ferguson, superintendent of traffic engineering for the city, said the impact was felt throughout the city, including on the Mountain.
“It was pretty bad, but it opened the eyes of the provincial highway network more so than the city of Hamilton,” said Ferguson, referring to the ongoing debate over a proposed mid-peninsula highway.
The Ontario Provincial Police investigation into Singh Rai and the dump truck is still ongoing. The vehicle has been impounded.
Although alcohol was allegedly a factor in the bridge crash, the Ontario Trucking Association said there is no need to be fearful of intoxicated truck drivers.
According to Marco Beghetto, vice-president of communications and new media, alcohol was not a factor in any fatal collisions involving heavy trucks in the last few years.
The truck’s cab is believed to be owned by Peel Transport Ltd. of Brampton. Peel Transport is co-owned by Raj Sidhu and T. Gill, who refused to give his first name. Gill said the company was three years old, but would not provide any additional information.
Two addresses were listed for Peel Transport Ltd., one for a residence, the other for a lot where the company parks its cabs. The first address was the home of Sidhu, who was not present at the time. A woman answered the door and confirmed he owned Peel Transport, but slammed the door shouting “we don’t want to talk about it.”
At the second location, there were nine trucks parked in the lot and a mechanic working on one of the engines. He confirmed the company was a joint partnership but said he had just started working for them a week ago and had no further information.
The company was seeking AZ drivers on Kijiji for runs to Toronto and Montreal. The latest ad was July 21.
Neither Sidhu nor Gill would comment on the accident or provide any other information about Peel Transport Ltd.
An employee of Triple M told The Hamilton Spectator that the trailer belonged to the company. Representatives for Triple M did not return phone calls over the weekend.
Peter Verok, regional director of the central region of the MTO, said the dump truck’s box must have opened while it was approaching the bridge. A sensor is located a kilometre before the bridge and it was not activated when Singh Rai drove past it. The sensor will flash lights at the driver to warn if they are transporting an oversized load. Verok said all systems were working prior to and after the incident.
Prior to the crash, the MTO had a three-year contract to rehabilitate some of the structures on the bridge. The project began in the spring and was supposed to be completed by the fall of 2016. The scaffolding from that project fell on another vehicle when the dump truck crashed into the steel beam of the bridge.
The Skyway Bridge carries up to 80,000 vehicles a day and about $480 million of goods, by official estimates.
Photo Courtesy of: Barry Gray / Hamilton Spectator