On February 22 Highway 401 eastbound between Colborne and Brighton was closed down for about 10 hours while police and Special Investigation Unit officials investigated a minor accident that occurred during a police chase on the highway near the Lake Rd. overpass in Cramahe.
The closure created havoc on County Rd. 2 with the entire stretch at a standstill at times. Drivers sought alternative routes across the township and residents on Telephone, Purdy and County Rd. 21 saw transports and various other vehicles trying to make time.
Cramahe Mayor Marc Coombs is unhappy with the situation and has been taking steps to remedy the problem in the future. He has sent us the following letter to residents of Cramahe Township.
Open letter to residents of Cramahe Township
I'd like to take this opportunity to advise that I share your concerns over the lengthy closure of the 401 this past Wednesday. Myself and other members of Council have heard from many of you regarding your dissatisfaction over this whole affair and please be aware that we are just as concerned.
The closure of one of the busiest highways in North America shouldn't be taken lightly and I'm sure you'll agree with me that if there is a fatality or a serious situation that requires extrication we understand if there has to be a closure of the 401 that may run into several hours. But like you, I am having a hard time understanding the length of the closure required on Wednesday. As you probably know, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was called in to investigate as an accident and injury had occurred as a result of a police pursuit. As such, their authority trumps that of the local OPP detachment. We will be looking to the SIU for a full accounting of their decision to shut down the 401 for ten hours and the resulting chaos as well as a response as to the length of the closure.
I have reached out to my fellow Mayors in Northumberland County and have received their support as well as that of senior County staff to start discussions in order to find both short term and long term solutions so that we aren't faced again with the issues we faced on Wednesday.
OPP Detachment Commander Doug Borton has also contacted me and is committed to meeting with the local Mayors, the County and the Ministry of Transportation in order to evaluate how 401 closures occur and how we can make the process more efficient as well as safer for the travelling public and less of a burden to local residents & businesses who are unduly inconvenienced.
I would be interested in any comments or feedback you wish to pass along.