Ministry of Transportation recommends nighttime closure of Highway 61 in Thunder Bay

Construction work required along Highway 61 in Thunder Bay, Ont., could see the roadway closed in the overnight hours starting next summer.

Work will take four to five months, require highway closure

Hundreds of people turned out on Thursday evening for an open house explaining the detour possibilities when work is underway on Highway 61 in summer 2018. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Construction work required along Highway 61 in Thunder Bay, Ont., could see the roadway closed in the overnight hours starting next summer.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) needs to complete work to four structures, being the CPR and Rosslyn Road overpasses, as well as two CN Rail underpasses.

The work will take four or five months to complete, which will cause a large traffic interruption. The MTO said it hopes its proposed alternative will help decrease frustration amongst drivers.

"[The closure] would consist of two lane traffic open during the day on Highway 61 as it currently is, and a nighttime closure with highway traffic being detoured onto Neebing Avenue," said Beau Little, who works in planning and design for the MTO.

"The reason we're suggesting that as the preferred alternative is we feel it has the least impact on the travelling public."

The highway is used by thousands of drivers each day, including Don Murray, who has lived off of Loch Lomond Road for over two decades.

"I like the alternative of keeping the highway open during the day and closing it at night to get the work done," said Murray, who noted when accidents have happened in the past, using Neebing Avenue as the only alternative has led to major congestion.

"I think it'll accommodate all the people that have to get to work in the morning, and get home after work."

Other alternatives proposed at the meeting included using only Neebing Avenue as a detour, having partial lane closures along Highway 61, a detour along Broadway Avenue, 20th and 22nd Sideroads, as well as using Highway 130.

The open house continues until 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 9 at the Airlane Hotel.

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