WINDSOR, Ont. - While the federal, provincial and municipal powers-that-be puzzle over politically viable solutions for the border traffic flow problem in Windsor, some smaller local companies are struggling to be heard. One of them is Border Gate...
WINDSOR, Ont. – While the federal, provincial and municipal powers-that-be puzzle over politically viable solutions for the border traffic flow problem in Windsor, some smaller local companies are struggling to be heard. One of them is Border Gateways Management Inc., headed by American Ann V. Arquette. Her company has created an IT system similar to that used in air traffic control, in order to manage truck traffic in Windsor.
The system would basically divert truck traffic to a parking lot far enough away from the U.S. border to avoid clogging up main arteries downtown. Trucks would then be released on an individual basis from the parking lot at the most efficient crossing times, thus avoiding the kind of gridlock Windsor has become infamous for.
Traffic flow would be managed by software linked to the bridge authority, the truck ferry authority, and possibly even Customs.
Outdoor cameras would support monitoring of the main arteries to crossings to ensure efficient traffic flow. Some of the cameras have already been installed on Huron Church Rd. in Windsor and are available for live viewing through www.BorderGateways.com
“It would have to be mandatory for everyone, or it wouldn’t work,” said Arquette, formerly with U.S. Customs, who presented her company’s proposal recently at Ontario’s annual truck show.
The company has an option to purchase 150 acres on the north side of the westbound lanes of Hwy. 401, approximately 20 km from the bridge.The only problem that remains is getting the money to go ahead with the plan.
“We’re hoping the various governments won’t ignore us just because we’re small. Because that’s also our strength. We’re grassroots,” said Arquette, who founded the company. Of course, once the traffic control centre was built, there would be a cost for users.
Also lobbying for some help from above is the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry. Currently the ferry’s open hours are so short (50 hours per week, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.) it doesn’t make much of a dent in Windsor’s truck traffic problem.
The ferry currently carries about eight tractor-trailers per trip and takes about 15 minutes to cross the river, moving 50 to 80 trucks per day, explained vice-president Gregg M. Ward, adding nothing would make the company happier than adding another ferry and increasing hours.
The problem is Customs availability, on the Canadian side, said Ward.
As of 1987, border crossings companies (the ferry made its first trip in 1990) have been obliged to pay for Canadian Customs services.
The ferry already spends roughly $100,000 per year on labour and infrastructure for one Canadian Customs officer, Ward explained. To operate round the clock and seven days per week would cost five or six times that amount. The additional cost of Canadian Customs services (they’re free for the ferry on the U.S. side) is prohibitive for any company wanting to build another crossing, explained Ward.
“That’s why we’re three years into a lawsuit with the Canadian government,” he said.
Other companies with border plans are watching the case closely, Ward added.
“You can bet companies like Mich-Can International Bridge Co. and the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership are watching to see what’s going to happen.”