This weekend’s great question for every American tourist heading for the Caribbean Carnival in Toronto is, “How to drive to Toronto without the Skyway Bridge in Hamilton”? The Toronto-bound side of the Burlington Skyway Bridge was damaged on July 31, 2014. But you want to play mas at Caribana (as it used to be known). How can you get from Niagara Falls to Toronto without that bridge?
Driving to Toronto via Hamilton
Whether you crossed the US/Canada border at Buffalo, New York; at Niagara Falls; or the I190/405 crossing south of Lewiston and Queenston: you’re planning to drive the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) to Toronto, Ontario. The obvious route takes you across the Burlington Skyway Bridge.
A dump truck crashed into the Toronto-bound Burlington Skyway Bridge on Thursday. It’s closed. The red ‘X’ and dot marks the spot.
What are your alternative routes to get to Toronto for the Caribbean Carnival or any of the other 2014 Civic Holiday festivals in Toronto?
You Won’t Get a Lift from the Lift Bridge
The obvious route is to take the Burlington Lift Bridge. You can’t tell the difference in routes from the above map; the bridges are very close to each other.
All in favour will say:
- This is the shortest alternate route.
- The detours are clearly marked. Just follow everyone else.
Those opposed will argue:
- There is a massive backup of vehicles trying to cross the lift bridge.
- Beach Blvd has fewer lanes and a lower speed limit than the QEW, any 400-series highway, or any provincial (2-digit) highway.
- The lift bridge lifts out of service every hour or so, to allow ships in and out of Hamilton Harbour.
- The most obvious detour will have the most tourists, so it will be more crowded and congested than the others.
Drive through Hamilton to Avoid the Burlington Skyway Bridge
The next shortest routes go through the city of Hamilton to avoid the Burlington Skyway Bridge.
Please note that the milermeter / gmap-pedometer web site supports runners and cyclists to plan routes. It seems smart enough to avoid some restricted access highways, if it can find a longer alternative route. If I spent the time to map each alternative for drivers, the bridge would be repaired and open for business before this public service announcement would be online.
Exit from the QEW to Hwy 20, the Centennial Parkway; or to the Red Hill Valley Parkway. Or, if you miss those exits, take the very obvious Burlington St. East exit and stay on Burlington St.
Burlington eventually takes you to Bay St. Turn south (left), then east (right) onto Cannon St. West. Merge onto York Blvd to drive around Burlington Bay. Eventually you should find ramps to Hwy 403.
If you exited the QEW earlier, onto Red Hill Valley Parkway, you would be swept onto the Lincoln M Alexander Parkway (“the Linc”) and then toward Hwy 403 without those bothersome inner-city Hamilton streets.
Had you taken Hwy 20 south, you should take minor highway 8, Queenston Road, east. You could then leap onto Red Hill Valley Parkway south to “the Linc”, or continue east. Hwy 8 jiggles a bit to become Main St. and King St.; they later recombine. If you get a glimpse at MacMaster University, you’ve missed the on-ramp to Hwy 403. Sorry.
The advantages of Hamilton Routes include:
- You may find food or shelter on your journey.
- More routes means fewer tourists per route.
- The parkway routes should be fairly quick, especially compared to the actual city streets.
The only real disadvantage is that each route is longer than the lift bridge detour. But none of these roads are closed on an hourly basis to let commercial shipping cross.
Heading to Toronto after Hamilton
Once you’re past Hamilton on Hwy 403, it will merge with the QEW, right where you would have been if you had been able to drive over the Burlington Skyway Bridge. To do this, you must avoid Hwy 407, the toll highway, which takes you north to Hwy 401.
Looking for More Festivals in Toronto Canada?
You can find more annual events and festivals in Toronto Ontario, through my web site. I track many of the annual Toronto events that I find interesting, listing many fascinating, free or frugal things to do in Toronto.
Disclaimer: DeHaan Services has no relationship with the Caribbean Carnival, tourist agencies nor highway departments. I am not reimbursed for writing this article. However, DeHaan Services does write web site or advertising copy for clients. Our skills are demonstrated in online articles in Decoded Science, Decoded Pregnancy and my Fitness and Weight Control blog. That’s why DeHaan Services highlights those online articles on this site.
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