Police in Toronto have now completely closed off two of the city’s busiest commuter freeways after what turned out to be one heck of a blizzard-plagued morning commute.
The Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) are temporarily closed as of 10:30 a.m. on Monday “due to extreme weather and for the safety of drivers.”
“All ramps will be closed,” announced police of the Gardiner and DVP at 10:18 a.m. this morning. “This is to help move any existing vehicles that are stuck and allow snow plows to clear the routes.”
Law enforcement authorities, city officials, and even the Premier of Ontario have been warning drivers all morning to stay off the roads unless absolutely vital, but a significant number of motorists seemed to either miss or disregard the memo.
Traffic cameras stationed along the Gardiner Expressway show an eerie-looking highway, almost empty save for some crashed cars, cop cruisers and a few snow plows.
Observers report that some motorists have been stuck on the busy highway for hours following a series of collisions.
Some drivers continue to try and dislodge themselves from hard snowbanks as they await help, and likely regret flouting the advice of experts to work from home today.
The DVP seems a bit heavier, traffic-wise, as police start to shut down the arterial road, but that doesn’t mean that cars are moving — motorists simply haven’t been able to leave yet.
… though not for a lack of trying.
The roads are unequivocally dangerous today as Toronto deals with a literal blizzard — the worst of its kind the city has seen in many, many years.
“Toronto is facing a serious weather event. Toronto Police and other first responders are doing their best to keep our city safe,” wrote TPS Chief James Ramer on Twitter Monday morning.
“You can help by staying off the roads unless absolutely necessary and only using 911 in an emergency, an imminent threat to life/property.”
“The best place to be right now is at home,” said OPP West Region Acting Sgt. Ed Sanchuk in a dispatch from the road similarly. “However if YOU need to travel, please slow down, turn all your lights on, and clear the snow from all windows on your vehicle. If you can’t see it, how are you going to avoid it!”
And the DVP and Gardiner aren’t alone in being unpassable; while not officially shut down yet, many streets within the city are inaccessible due to thick snow and stalled vehicles.
— markjharvey.eth (@markjharvey) January 17, 2022
“Unless absolutely necessary, please avoid driving on any city streets today,” said City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross as the highways closed down.
A blizzard warning remains in effect for Toronto and much of Southern Ontario as Monday goes on, with heavy snow and strong winds expected to persist well into the evening, messing up the roads for personal vehicles and public transit alike.
Environment Canada is calling for total snowfall amounts of 40 to 60 cm locally by the time this winter storm passes and, like every other official agency, warns that “travel is expected to be very difficult or impossible due to near-zero visibility.”