Explosion shuts Highway 401, snarls traffic
An early morning explosion in north Toronto shut down roads and services in the city, including a 16-kilometre strip of Highway 401, Canada's busiest road.
A large neighbourhood — bounded by Keele Street, Dufferin Street, Sheppard Avenue and Wilson Avenue — was evacuated. Drivers and pedestrians were not allowed to enter the area, and city buses were taking alternate routes to avoid it.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre, a busy mall along Highway 401, appeared to have been evacuated Sunday afternoon, although the city said no official evacuation order had been issued.
Sgt. Cam Woolley of the Ontario Provincial Police said Highway 401 was closed from Highway 400 east to Highway 404/Don Valley Parkway. Some cars were spotted on the roadway, but these vehicles had permission because they are taking evacuees out of the area, Woolley said.
He said traffic was extremely heavy along the 401 leading up to the closed areas, with the eastbound express lanes of the 401 near the 400 looking like "a big parking lot."
The southbound lanes of Highway 404, heading into Toronto, were also jammed.
Alternate routes drivers can take include:
- Highway 407, a toll highway, runs parallel to Highway 401 across the city. Highway 7 and Steeles Avenue are smaller alternate routes.
- Highway 400 southbound, bringing drivers into Toronto from cottage country was moving well, but drivers cannot enter the eastbound 401, so they will be forced to go either westbound on the 401, or south on Black Creek Drive.
- Highway 427, bringing drivers to and from the airport, was moving well.
- The Don Valley Parkway was moving smoothly, but drivers cannot enter the westbound 401, so they are forced to go either north on the 404 or east on the 401.
Toronto Transit Commission initially closed subway service in the area of the evacuation, but service has since resumed.
Bus routes being diverted from the affected areas included:
- 107 Keele North.
- 108 Downsview.
- 165 Weston Road North.
- 29 Dufferin.
- 84 Sheppard West.
- 96 Wilson.
Go buses were also diverted:
- No buses were stopping at the Yorkdale bus terminal, which was closed due to its proximity to the site of the explosions.
- Brampton, Oshawa and Canada's Wonderland buses were operating to York Mills only, with riders experiencing delays of 20 to 30 minutes.
Anyone worried about family or friends who live in the neighbourhood of the explosions can call 416-736-5185 for information. The number is not to be used to obtain information in general.