BORDEN-CARLETON – A passenger was seriously injured and the driver of a tractor-trailer from Amherst, Nova Scotia, has been charged following a collision Monday that temporarily shutdown the Confederation Bridge.
RCMP received a call at 11:50 a.m. of an accident involving a street sweeper and a tractor-trailer on the 12.9-kilometre bridge that connects P.E.I. to the mainland. All travel across the bridge was suspended at that time.
“There was a street cleaner on the bridge and it was proceeding to the New Brunswick side at a very low speed when a tractor-trailer hit it from behind,” an RCMP spokesman said. “The passenger in the tractor-trailer was seriously injured. He is stable and he is being transferred to Charlottetown. His injuries are not life threatening.”
The driver of the bridge sweeper was also injured in the collision.
“He was badly shaken up and bruised,” the Mountie said. “He didn’t see it coming. He was struck pretty hard and didn’t recall some things. He’s been released from Prince County Hospital after being treated there.”
The driver of the tractor-trailer has been charged under the provincial Highway Traffic Act for driving without due care and attention.
The bridge re-opened to traffic at 4:40 p.m.
Scott Danells from New Brunswick was travelling to P.E.I. when the accident occurred and was caught in the backlog of vehicles for nearly three hours.
“Both the transport truck and the sweeper were still there when I drove by,” he said. “The sweeper was bent almost at a 90-degree angle so, whatever hit it, hit it at a pretty good speed, by the look of it, I would say.”
Danells said the accident occurred about nine-kilometres in from the New Brunswick side.
Mike Cassidy, owner/operator of Maritime Bus, said bus service to and from the Island was not impacted very much by the closure of the bridge.
“We would have got our morning run in without any difficulty and we would have been affected around 2 p.m. which would have delayed us slightly,” Cassidy said. “It was drastic enough to put our Charlottetown office on alert.”
The Confederation Bridge is the only link from the Island to the mainland during the winter months, other than air travel.
The crash shut down the link for nearly five hours, prompting questions about would happen if a major incident occurred that closed the bridge for a lengthy period of time?
P.E.I. Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said accidents such as the one that happened on Monday are left to Strait Crossing Inc. and local police to handle.
“I believe there is a protocol in place for a longer period (of closure) with Transport Canada, playing a role.” the minister said.
Officials with Transport Canada and Strait Crossing, operators of the nearly $1 billion bridge could not be reached for comment.