Mayor and MPP demand more from MTO after collisions

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Mayor Mike Bradley and MPP Bob Bailey are sending letters to the Ministry of Transportation regarding recent collisions on Highway 402’s westbound lanes in Sarnia.

The letters are prompted by two separate collisions involving several truck trailers that occurred within over a week of each other on a stretch of highway close to the Blue Water Bridge. In one collision, an American truck driver was killed.

Bradley and Bailey on Thursday each sent letters addressed to the Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca.

The mayor said he’s received several messages from Sarnia residents about the collisions and about safety on Highway 402.

“There’s a large concern,” said Bradley. “It’s a highly populated residential area.”

He added it’s fortunate none of the trailers were carrying flammable or hazardous materials. The mayor wonders if electric signage on the highway in Sarnia is enough to prevent such collisions.

“Should it be more dramatic? More forceful?” he asked.

He said residents have mentioned there’s only one truck lane on that part of the highway, and that part of the problem is that all of the truck traffic is being directed into a single lane.

The OPP on Wednesday said both collisions were preventable and that there was “absolutely no excuse” for the accidents to have occurred. An OPP representative said a big problem is distracted drivers.

Bailey invited the transportation minister to meet and talk, about additional measures for Highway 402, with concerned citizens, local truck drivers, police and representatives from the Blue Water Bridge.

The MPP also referred to a letter he wrote to Del Duca in November 2015, asking if the ministry’s lane management system and its “end-of-queue” sensor detection system were fully operational in the highway’s westbound lanes.

Over 10 years ago, in attempting to reduce the number of collisions, the province began adding safety precautions on Highway 402. They included changeable flashing traffic signs, surveillance cameras and speed limit drops from 100 kilometres per hour to 75, and then finally to 50 as drivers approached the Blue Water Bridge.

In 2009, two years prior to 2012’s Highway 402 completed additions, there were two car and three truck accidents. And then a year later, there were three car and six truck accidents.

But after the enhanced safety precautions were finished in 2012, the MTO said data suggests “an increase in truck collisions on Highway 402 westbound approaching the Blue Water Bridge.” That information is based on preliminary data for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Liane Fisher, communications coordinator for MTO’s west region said the ministry will be discussing the findings with OPP and the Federal Bridge Corporation which is responsible for the Blue Water Bridge.

She also noted that the “July 19 collision was the only one to result in a fatality in the entire period we reviewed, since 2009.”

Bradley said there should be a decrease in the number of collision but, regardless of what measures are taken in light of recent collisions, acknowledges accidents are always going to happen.

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