Thunder Bay·Audio

Highway 17 re-opens early Mon. morning after closing near Marathon

OPP opened Highway 17 between Terrace Bay and Marathon at 2 a.m. Monday.
Snow and ice caused dangerous driving conditions on Highway 17 over the weekend, leading to highway closures between Terrace Bay and Marathon. File photo. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

OPP opened Highway 17 between Terrace Bay and Marathon at 2 a.m Monday.

The route opened at about 5 p.m. Sunday after being closed for much of the weekend. But the opening would be very brief as the OPP closed it again an hour later.

The road had been closed overnight on Saturday and most of Sunday from Terrace Bay to White River, because of heavy ice conditions leaving some northwestern Ontario travellers stranded for hours.

Gerald Cashen was driving east from Thunder Bay on Saturday when he started to see trouble on the road near Jackfish, about 60 kilometres west of Marathon.

"There was a tanker that was stuck on a blind hill and nobody could get past him," Cashen said. "A few people tried, a few other rigs, and they got jackknifed."

Cashen's four-wheel drive Jeep did manage to navigate that hill, but then, heading east "there were in excess of 10 rigs jackknifed on the hills and very little sanding had gone on and everything had turned to ice."

"The snow that was there was compact then with the freezing rain it turned into an ice rink," he said. "The lack of sanding, the lack of salting is the biggest frustration for everyone." 

Cashen said from about 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., he was unable to go anywhere. He estimates more than 100 other cars were also stranded, some overnight. Eventually Cashen was able to drive slowly to Marathon, where he said an OPP officer told him the road was closed.

He said he spent the night in his Jeep and saw some truckers start to arrive in Marathon around 3 a.m.

Cashen said it has been difficult to get information about when the road might re-open.

"That's the most frustrating thing is nobody can tell us anything," he said.

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