Will closing Skyway lead to traffic chaos this summer?

Ministry of Transportation officials are assuring local politicians that there won’t be traffic chaos in Hamilton when they close the Burlington Skyway. But councillors aren’t so sure.
MTO is doing several projects around Hamilton this summer, including work on the Burlington Skyway that councillors worry will cause a traffic nightmare when it's closed. (Terry Asma/CBC)

Ministry of Transportation officials are assuring local politicians that there won’t be traffic chaos in Hamilton when they close the Burlington Skyway. But councillors aren’t so sure.

The skyway will close completely 18 weekends over the next three years as crews resurface the Toronto-bound lane of the QEW. The closures will be overnight and traffic will be diverted to Eastport Drive.

MTO officials assured the city’s public works committee Monday that the only chance of a day-time closure would be in the event of sustained winds greater than 85 kilometres per hour. And that’s rare.

But Coun. Chad Collins doesn’t buy it. He’s lived through skyway closures before and “it’s been a nightmare.”

“What scares people who live in that area is we’re going to see an influx of QEW traffic on local residential streets.”

Work on the Toronto-bound part of the skyway will start this spring and finish in fall 2016. The province is concerned about corrosion of structural steel, so this will coat it to protect it for the next 25 years, said Martin Michalek, an MTO area manager.

In addition to overnight closures, there will be “very short-term closures” on the skyway for a maximum of four hours some week-day nights. 

Two lanes will also close if sustained winds reach 70 kilometres, because that will cause uneven loads on the bridge. If winds reach 85 kilometres, the OPP will close the whole bridge.

Sustained winds of that magnitude are rare, said Fabio Saccon, MTO area traffic manager. But Collins consulted the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport and learned there were about three last year.

The high winds concern Coun. Brian McHattie of Ward 1 too. He’s particularly worried for residents on Beach Boulevard, which could suffer the impact of highway traffic that turns off Eastport Drive.

“I’m not confident at all” of MTO’s reassurances, he said.

Here are other MTO road projects planned for this summer:

Highway 5 and 6 resurfacing

  • Resurfacing Highway 5 from Highway 6 to east of Highway 8 (12.5 kilometres).
  • Resurfacing Highway 6 from 11 Concession East to just north of Maddaugh Road (4.5 kilometres).
  • The work will run from June to October 2014. There will be night-time lane restrictions but no full closures.

Highway 403 and York Boulevard underpass

  • Crews will do work on a single-span concrete bridge that has had no major work for 50 years.
  • No traffic impacts on York Boulevard. Ramps will close from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday to Friday and longer hours on weekends.
  • The work will go from June 2 to Oct. 31, 2014.

403 resurfacing

  • Crews will resurface the highway from Old Guelph Road to 1.5 kilometres east of the Lincoln Alexander Parkway (7.5 kilometres).
  • Crews will fix an area that’s in danger of falling rocks from 1.5 kilometres east of the Linc to just west of Aberdeen Avenue, among other work.
  • There will be night-time lane closures, but there will be a minimum of one lane open at all times. There will be some overnight ramp closures.
  • The work will go from April to Oct. 31, 2014.

403 bridges from Mohawk Road to Wilson Street

  • Crews will work on seven bridges at six locations along the 403. That includes bridges on Wilson Street, Fiddlers Green, Southcote Road, Golf Links Road and Mohawk Road.
  • Construction will run from the summer until Oct. 31, 2014. There will be night-time ramp closures.


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