OTD: Tolls removed on Burlington Skyway

On today’s date in 1973, the tolls were removed from the Burlington Bay Skyway (known today as the Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway).

Commonly referred to as the Burlington Skyway, this pair of high-level freeway bridges crosses the Burlington Bay Canal leading into Hamilton Harbour. It is part of the Queen Elizabeth Way highway linking Fort Erie with Toronto.

The first bridge—made of steel—was completed in 1958 and officially opened on Oct. 30, 1958. It allowed Great Lakes shipping traffic to flow underneath while four lanes of Toronto-bound road traffic travelled on top.

City of Hamilton worker Robert Collins removes an automatic toll-taker in 1964; however, the Burlington Skyway would remain tolled until Dec. 28, 1973. (Photo by Hamilton Historical Commission)

TOLL TRAFFIC

The Burlington Skyway was tolled when it officially opened; however, the tolls were removed on Dec. 28, 1973, because they impeded traffic flow.  The tolls were especially controversial among truck drivers, many of whom refused to use the bridge because vehicles with three or more axles were charged the full toll of 45 cents. When the tolls were removed in 1973, trucks were prohibited from using nearby Beach Boulevard.

ONTARIO HIGHWAY TOKENS

In the early 1960s until 1973, a number of tokens were issued by the Ontario Department of Highways for use on the Burlington Skyway (as well as the nearby Garden City Skyway in St. Catharines, Ont.).

Toll users could either pay 15 cents (or 25 cents for trucks with two axels or a car and trailer, and 45 cents for a vehicle with three or more axles) or they could use the Department of Highways’ tokens, 20 of which could be purchased for $1 in 1958, when the bridge officially opened.

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