It might have been faster to walk.
Traffic on several downtown streets slowed to a painful crawl on Tuesday after a semi-trailer truck tipped on its side on the Summit Connector around 8 a.m. just prior to the morning rush hour.
The trailer was loaded with bales of paper from Domtar and was travelling southbound up the Connector when it failed to make the hairpin turn linking West Victoria to Summit Drive.
The driver wasn’t seriously injured, said Kamloops RCMP Staff. Sgt. Grant Learned, but it took about six hours to remove the truck and its contents.
The truck was loaded with 96 bales weighing about 20,000 kilograms. When the load tipped it weakened the sides of the trailer.
“There was signs of metal fatigue,” said Learned. “Rivets were popped out and some initial separation starting at the seams of the sheets of metal on the side of the trailer.”
If the truck was pulled upright, the load would likely break through the sidewall, he added.
“And then we would have the 20,000 kilograms of paper product all over the road and it would create a bigger hazard than what we had.”
The recovery team brought in forklifts to unload the trailer and it took until 2:15 p.m. for the semi and debris to be removed.
In the meantime, the Connector’s northbound lanes remained opened and all southbound traffic was diverted to First Avenue and Columbia Street, which caused heavy traffic congestion.
Compounding the trouble were two separate City crews working on different portions of Columbia Street.
A Parks crew working on upgrades to Marigold Mile had closed one lane, which further slowed traffic coming off First Avenue.
“When we started hearing about that, we gave a call to Parks and they were able to pull their crew off to help with the congestion that was caused there,” said the City’s senior traffic planner Pierre Pouliotte. “That was around lunchtime.”
City parks operations supervisor Shawn Cook confirmed that his crew was pulled as a result of the Summit Connector accident.
Adding to the trouble on Columbia, a Public Works crew had closed a lane near McGill Road to repair a strip of asphalt.
Pouliotte said there is no way to predict the kind of situation that occurred on Tuesday.
“It was just a culmination of different things happening at once,” he said.
“Given enough time, we can put different plans together, but when you’re talking about an accident and trying to implement a strategy, by the time you get it all figured out and implemented on the street the accident is over and cleaned up.”
It was a similar situation last Friday after a truck hit the overpass on Fortune Drive, forcing the closure of the popular route into the North Shore’s downtown strip.
Pouliotte said the City acted quickly to find a substitute route by altering the traffic signal at Leigh Road to give drivers an advanced left-turn signal. But he admits it’s not a perfect solution.
“It’s a little bit inefficient because there’s no dedicated left-turn lane,” he added.
There have already been reports of northbound traffic backing up at the new turn signal during peak traffic times.
Those issues will likely last another two weeks while drivers wait for the overpass to be reopened.