Red Hill closed for afternoon commute after 44K litres of liquid asphalt leaks after crash

The city is being forced to repave a section of the Red Hill Valley Parkway Thursday that's slated to be repaved again in just a few months — because a tractor-trailer struck a bridge and rolled over on the roadway, spilling about 44,000 litres of liquid asphalt.

The spill means the roadway needs emergency repairs and repaving

Police are investigating an early-morning crash on the Red Hill Valley Parkway. (City of Hamilton)

The city is being forced to repave a section of the Red Hill Valley Parkway Thursday that's already slated to be repaved again in just a few months — because a tractor-trailer struck a bridge and rolled over on the roadway, spilling about 44,000 litres of liquid asphalt.

The single-vehicle collision happened around 4:30 a.m., police say. The Red Hill Valley Parkway is closed southbound between Queenston Road and Greenhill Avenue, and northbound between Stone Church Road and King Street East. It will stay closed through the afternoon rush hour and into the evening.

The city says crews have to clean up the asphalt, and also repair "significant damage to the road itself." 

Fire Chief Dave Cunliffe said in a statement that the tanker truck rolled over after striking the CP railroad bridge that crosses the Red Hill just south of King Street.

Officials say about 44,000 litres of liquid asphalt leaked into the roadway after the crash. (City of Hamilton)

"Liquid asphalt was leaking from the tanker across the northbound lanes down through the centre median and across one lane of the south bound lanes," Cunliffe said Thursday morning.

"The Hamilton Fire Department hazmat team was able to contain the leaking product from the tanker unit as well as set up containment systems in the median and roadways."

Emergency crews first estimated that around 30,000 litres of the asphalt leaked out of the tanker, but that number was later upped to 44,000.

2 people sent to hospital

Two people who were in the truck when the crash happened were pulled out of the wreck by firefighters using an aerial ladder, and then assessed by paramedics, Cunliffe said. Police say they were taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

No evacuations were necessary, Cunliffe said.

The city says workers are currently trying to scrape off as much of the liquid asphalt from the roadway as possible, before starting an emergency "shave and pave" in the area today.

The city says it expects the roadway to be closed until Thursday evening. (City of Hamilton)

Edward Soldo, director of roads and traffic for the City of Hamilton, told CBC News that Thursday's freezing temperatures are actually helping a little, in that it's slowing the substance down so it won't run all over the place.

"It's almost like caramel out there," he said. 

This section of the roadway is part of a larger resurfacing project on the Red Hill that's slated to happen in July. Though crews will mill off the top two inches of existing pavement Thursday and place new asphalt back on top, the whole thing will once again be replaced this summer.

The crash happened in a general area where there have been a number of crashes — some fatal — and concerns over safety in recent years. Families of people who have died in collisions in the area have been pushing for improvements, including repaving and barriers. 

Soldo said the larger resurfacing project is happening because the pavement has "reached the end of its lifespan."

Monitoring traffic patterns

City officials also plan to replace a broken guardrail that was wrecked in the crash, and are working with CP Rail to assess damage to the bridge. Soldo said the city will be looking to recoup costs through insurance.

Traffic operations staff have implemented emergency traffic detours, and have "all hands on deck" at Hamilton's Traffic Management Centre, reviewing alternate routes and adjusting stoplight signal timing in an effort to lessen traffic pressures, the city says.

"They are tracking to see how the traffic patterns are going," Soldo said — but as 75,000 cars drive on the RHVP each day, there are bound to be delays. Most cars will be rerouted onto Centennial Parkway or other side streets.

"Unfortunately, during peak hours, they will have to go somewhere."

Investigators are now trying to figure out what caused the collision. Police say that no criminal or Highway Traffic Act charges have yet been laid.