Sinkhole traffic clogged until next week

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/09/06/sinkhole-traffic-clogged-until-next-week

Don’t expect to get home any faster tonight, tomorrow, or next week.

 

Traffic in the east end- at a standstill – will be flowing the week after next, the city’s manager of asset management Alain Gonthier told reporters at City Hall.

A Toronto manufacturer is expediting production of a new storm drain pipe to repair the gigantic Hwy. 174 sinkhole.

It’s being delivered in chunks with two out of 18 pieces arriving Friday, said Mayor Jim Watson.

Work is set to begin in the median area and will extend throughout next week.

“This is a complex project in terms of installation…,” said Gonthier, confirming police escorts won’t be required to transport the pipe.

While city officials aren’t saying how much it will cost to fix the sinkhole, a $15,000 premium is being forked over to rush the order, said Watson.

An estimated 9,000 to 11,000 vehicles are on Hwy. 174 during peak times, said Phil Landry from traffic management.

“This is a huge challenge, particularly for the tens of thousands of Ottawa commuters that use the 174 to get to and from work and school each and every day,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

A car was swallowed by a sinkhole on Hwy. 174 at the eastbound Jeanne d’Arc Blvd. off-ramp around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Juan Pedro Unger, 48, climbed out, suffering minor cuts and scrapes.

His 2009 Hyundai Accent, though, still hasn’t been retrieved from under the highway after the 50-year-old storm sewer pipe collapsed.

“…There’s no necessity to rush its removal,” said Gonthier.

Motorists should expect gridlock, especially during rush hour, Ottawa police warned.

“Basically, those traffic delays are going to continue until the 174 reopens,” said Supt. Jill Skinner, adding drivers have been spotted using the shoulder and the Transitway.

“Some of those people did receive tickets and we will continue to conduct enforcement if that’s what’s required,” said Skinner.

Both options are illegal.

“The challenge for us is, when we start to do enforcement, if we pull cars over in that area, we are going to cause more of a bottleneck,” said Skinner.

Police sources tell the Sun they’re being bomboarded with accidents and complaints related to Hwy. 174 congestion.

“We cannot be on every corner so we do need the public to be patient and expect delays,” said Skinner.

Rural roads near Navan are also backlogged as motorists find substitute routes.

Drivers are asked to stagger their travel time, carpool, work from home, or use public transportation.

Wednesday’s commute for bus riders averaged 40 minutes, according to the city.

Buses heading eastbound will continue using a westbound lane, which has been effective, Landry said.

For details, visit ottawa.ca

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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