Extreme weather protocols to be changed in light of truck roll-over on Burlington skyway
Published Wednesday, July 5, 2017 6:37PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 5, 2017 7:15PM EDT
The Ministry of Transportation and Ontario Provincial Police are looking to change their extreme weather safety protocols for the two skyways in the Golden Horseshoe in light of high winds sending a tractor trailer flying back in March, CTV News Toronto has learned exclusively.
Surveillance footage captured the moment a gust of high wind toppled a truck over the Burlington Skyway – which is 210 feet high.
“That was a shocking piece of video,” spokesperson with the Ontario Safety League Brian Patterson told CTV News Toronto.
The incident has prompted provincial police and the MTO to implement tighter restrictions on crossing the bridge. These restrictions include the bridge being shut down if sustained winds are more than 80 km/h. As well, a sign warning motorists to reduce speed will be shown if sustained winds are above 60 km/h and a high wind advisory will be flashed on signs approaching the bridge if sustained winds speeds are more than 40 km/h.
But, CTV News Toronto has learned that these new restrictions would not have prevented the roll over that occurred in March which could have been deadly.
On that day, Environment Canada says the wind gusts hit 115 km/h and sustained winds were at 74 km/h, which is below the new closure threshold.
OPP officer Insp. Doug Fenske says they were notified moments before it happened, but it was too late.
“By the time we even got notified and had an officer attend the truck had rolled over already,” he said.
“I was up on the bridge that day in April – just stopped up on top of the bridge – and it was actually scary, it was blowing the car substantially. Whether you’re in a smaller car it still has a significant impact on your driving ability.”
OPP says the roll-over did not result in any serious injuries due to the space between cars in the lane beside the truck.
New trucks more susceptible to high winds
The truck blow-over comes amid new trucks becoming lighter in weight making them more susceptible to heavy winds.
“I think it speaks to the new age of engineering – we’ve got lighter trailers, better trailers, stronger trailers but they just can’t take the wind the old trailers could,” Patterson said.
Furthermore, the Ontario Safety League says they want more sensors placed on top of the bridge that would feed local wind conditions to MTO’s compass control centre. This would allow police to re-route lighter trucks and empty trucks to a ground-level detour by-pass.
Prior to these new restrictions being discussed, a general high wind warning was used for winds with sustained gusts over 40 km/h. During these circumstances MTO compass would notify OPP with a standard message saying “high winds in skyway, drive carefully.”
In the event of 60 km/h sustained winds MTO compass would notify OPP, which would lead to increased patrols over the bridges with a message reading “skyway-severe winds, reduce speeds.”
On the day of the incident, this message was displayed.
The decision to change the regulations based on wind speeds will come within the next three months at their next meeting, MTO says.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Paul Bliss