Both the east and westbound lanes of Highway 401 have reopened near Chatham following a collision involving three tractor-trailers and two other vehicles.

Emergency crews were on the scene of the crash near Communication Road for several hours Thursday afternoon. Provincial police warned motorists to expect delays shortly after the highway was cleared around 9 p.m.

The crash happened in a construction zone after a truck travelling east stopped, causing the tractor-trailer behind to slam into it, stated Const. Jay Denorer in a media release. A third transport truck collided with the tractor-trailer, sandwiching it between the two trucks. 

Five vehicles received "moderate damage" and were towed away, added Denorer. Minor injuries were reported.

'Treacherous' stretch worries driver

Kimberly Juras was driving down the highway with her family Thursday afternoon when they noticed there was no traffic on the other side of the road.

"We were a little bit concerned," she said. "Very shortly we started seeing emergency vehicles flying by on the opposite side of the road."

As they passed the crash site, Juras said she was struck by just how close the two lanes of traffic are in the construction zone.

401 Crash, chatham

Two other vehicles crashed into the back of a transport truck that had already struck two other trucks on Highway 401 near Chatham Thursday afternoon. (Kimberly Juras)

"There's not a lot of room in there at all and the problem is all lanes can become involved," she said. "If there's a collision and there's a fire … that can involve the other lane as well because you're just a cement divider away from each other. It's very precarious."

The eastbound lanes were closed at Bloomfield road, while the westbound lanes were shut down at Kent Bridge Road.

As for Juras, she said her family may be considering alternate routes for future travel given the recent spike in "treacherous accidents" on the highway near Chatham.

"I think we may consider taking Highway 3 or Highway 2 just as an alternate to get around those construction zones that seem to be hot zones right now."