** This story was updated at 8:56 a.m. Tuesday
Southbound lanes on Alex Fraser Bridge were closed for nearly eight hours Monday (Jan. 23) due to a “police incident” involving a person’s mental-health crisis.
At 12:39 p.m., traffic chaos resulted after Delta Police tweeted about “temporarily” closing southbound lanes while dealing with someone on the bridge deck.
Southbound lanes remained closed until around 8:30 p.m., and only a trickle of vehicles got through northbound, in a single lane.
The bridge closure was “related to an ongoing negotiation involving a mental health crisis,” said Acting Insp. James Sandberg, Public Affairs Manager with Delta Police.
In the end, the person involved in the incident “co-operated with our negotiators and has been safely apprehended,” the police department tweeted at 8:49 p.m.
Alex Fraser Bridge southbound has been temporarily closed while Delta Police are dealing with a police incident. Thank you for your patience while our officers are on the bridge deck. pic.twitter.com/2lAk3540nd
— Delta Police Traffic Unit (@DPDTraffic) January 23, 2023
Earlier, in a written statement during the traffic standstill, Sandberg said there are a variety of reasons considered when the bridge is closed.
“And it is not an easy decision. The commuting public and impacts on them are considered. However, our first priority is the preservation of life. That trumps other priorities.”
The bridge is not designed to reroute people in the opposite direction on the other side of the centre divider, he added.
“If you have ever been on the bridge deck, it is loud with traffic going by. You will know the bridge moves significantly. The noise and the movement elevates the danger to those involved.
“Officers are on the road side of the concrete divider between the road and the sidewalk. They have to shout to be heard. They are negotiating and communicating.
“The motoring public, especially when angry, can become ignorant,” Sandberg further explained. “People will take chances with their driving behavior, they will drive aggressively. Some drivers will rubber-neck to get a view of what is happening. They will honk their horns. They will yell at the person in crisis. They will stop and offer the officers advice. They will be involved in secondary collisions.
“These are all distractions that impact the priority of saving a life.”
⛔ REMINDER – CLOSED #BCHwy91 southbound on the #AlexFraserBridge due to a police incident. Please avoid the area and expect major delays. Assessment in progress, estimated opening time unavailable. #DeltaBC #RichmondBC #NewWest
ℹ️ Info here: https://t.co/YVAfMGPXO7 pic.twitter.com/E0YF68fHad
— DriveBC (@DriveBC) January 23, 2023