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911 centre 'inundated with calls’ about delays on The Kingsway

People have been phoning 911 to complain about traffic delays on The Kingsway, and police are urging people to stop it, because traffic jams do not constitute an emergency

Traffic jams might be frustrating, but they do not constitute an emergency.

Greater Sudbury police issued this message on Tuesday after receiving a report the 911 communications centre was “inundated with calls” with people complaining about construction.

At issue is ongoing work on The Kingsway, which people have been phoning the GSPS non-emergency number and 911 to complain about.

This, GSPS spokesperson Kaitlynn Dunn told, “ties up lines for real emergencies.” 

In a tweet, GSPS similarly issued a notice for people to cease calling their non-emergency and emergency lines with complaints about traffic congestion.

“Construction will continue throughout the summer,” they noted. “Plan your route accordingly.”

Around the time of the GSPS messaging, traffic at The Kingsway’s intersection with Barrydowne Road was particularly backed up, city engineering services director David Shelsted told by phone on Tuesday afternoon while watching traffic flows at the intersection.

Traffic had cleared up a bit by then, he said, noting the longest lineup of traffic when he was looking at approximately 3:15 p.m. was eastbound along The Kingsway.

Even then, motorists would have varying opinions as to how bad traffic is, he said, noting those who didn’t use the zipper merge technique were having a tougher go of things.

One eastbound lane was backed up all the way to McDonald’s, while the other lane which ended at the construction site wasn’t backed up nearly as much.

The zipper merge is where vehicles proceed along all available lanes until the point a lane ends. At that point, vehicles in the lane that ends are allowed to merge one vehicle at a time.

Traffic delays such as the one that took place on Tuesday will happen from time to time throughout the project, Shelsted said, noting that crews will strive to get work at intersections done as quickly as possible, and at non-peak times.

They would have done the work overnight if not for the precise grading job being undertaken at the intersection, Shelsted said, noting the help of sunlight results in a better end product.

“There might also be issues with construction where you have breakdowns and need parts ... so we can minimize the impact if we do a daytime operation,” he said. “We have to do a little bit of a disruption to have a better riding surface and renew our infrastructure through this intersection.”

Tuesday's work, which was assisted by police officers controlling traffic, was completed in time for afternoon rush-hour traffic, he added.

At least one lane in each direction will remain open throughout the project, he said, and if people zipper merge and plan their trips accordingly, things will go more smoothly.

The traffic bottleneck along a stretch of The Kingsway began late last year, and is expected to remain in place until approximately November. 

The project includes the renewal of underground infrastructure and a combination of shave-and-pave and complete road rebuild between Silver Hills Drive and Falconbridge Road. 

Much of the work will take place this year, Shelsted said, noting it will take place in two phases. The first phase stretches from Silver Hills Drive and Barrydowne Road, while the second will stretch from Barrydowne Road to Falconbridge Road.

Crews are currently working on a shave-and-pave asphalt project between Silver Hills and Barrydowne, which is expected to extend its life by approximately 15 years. The underground storm sewer work is anticipated to last 80 to 100 years.

Once that stretch is completed, they’ll proceed to a complete rebuild between Barydowne and Falconbridge. This stretch will be “urbanized,” which includes the construction of curbs on both sides alongside sidewalks. 

The road rebuild between Barrydowne and Falconbridge is expected to last between 20 to 25 years, at which time a shave-and-pave will be required.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for