Three Niagara MPPs Make “Urgent” Call on Ford Government to Fix Thorold Tunnel Chaos

“We … request a prompt meeting between local leaders and your Ministry in order to find a solution that accounts for our community who have expressed deep concern with this closure.” – Niagara NDP MPPs Jeff Burch, Wayne Gates and Jennie Stevens to Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney

One of the entrance ramps to the Thorold Tunnel, passing under the Welland Canal in Niagara, Ontario, and closed again this past October for yet another potentially deadly mishap in the tunnel. Over the past four months alone, the tunnel had to be temporarily closed because of a truck catching fire, a multi-vehicle collision, and concrete slabs falling from the ceiling of the tunnel falling when a truck grazed them. The Thorold tunnel, in many peoples’ mind,s, has been a nightmare for decades. At least two or three fatalities have occurred in the tunnel due to leaks of water from the tunnel walls turning to ice and other dangerous conditions. Photo by Doug Draper

An Open Letter , dated November 19th, 2019, to Ontario’s Ford Government from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates and St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens

Posted November 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Ford’s Transportation Minister, Caroline Mulroney

Letter to Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Dear Minister Mulroney:

We are sending you this urgent letter on behalf of the people of Niagara. For months now, thousands of Niagara drivers who rely on the Thorold tunnel daily have experienced inconvenience, delays and frustration.

With the recent news that the Ministry of Transportation is ending two-way traffic through the Thorold tunnel, citizens and local leaders have come forward demanding an answer. Vehicles eastbound to Niagara Falls would have to find an alternative route, one that is already facing issues of congestion and construction closures.

Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch

This is not a minor inconvenience. It is estimated that 24,300 vehicles use the Thorold tunnel each day. Reconfiguration of traffic flow to only be in one direction– cutting off access between Niagara Falls and Thorold–is not a solution; it will create an unmanageable amount of traffic that will ripple throughout the region.

We have spoken to local mayors who have brought concerns forward to us, and to your Ministry. What is clear is that there are larger issues with communication between the MTO, the Region and cities.

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

The ongoing situation with the Thorold tunnel exemplifies how that line of communication has broken down. Health and safety are paramount. However, shutting down the tunnel for health and safety reasons does not mean that the closure will not cause health and safety concerns in other areas.

This tunnel is vital for ambulances that need to transport individuals in need to larger hospitals in the region.

St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens

One-way traffic through the Thorold tunnel for the foreseeable future is not a solution; it creates a myriad of other issues and will result in major disruptions. The Mayor of Thorold and the Niagara Regional Chair have expressed their concerns and put forward additional suggestions that find a balance between ensuring our community is safe but also accessible and efficient.

The issue with the Thorold tunnel presents an opportunity for renewed communication. We would request a prompt meeting between local leaders and your Ministry in order to find a solution that accounts for our community who have expressed deep concern with this closure.

Sincerely, Jeff Burch, MPP Niagara Centre, Wayne Gates , MPP Niagara Falls,  Jennie Stevens, MPP St. Catharines

The Thorold Tunnel, completely closed to traffice for more than 24 hours yet again this fall due to a dangerous mishap that occurred inside. Photo by Doug Draper

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