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Huge plaza planned for border route

WINDSOR, Ont. - As many as 14,000 trucks cross North America's busiest commercial border between Windsor-Detroit daily.Yet, aside from the comparatively small Husky House truck stop on County Rd. 46 j...


NO FREE LUNCH: Canada is plagued by a lack of truck stops and rest areas.
NO FREE LUNCH: Canada is plagued by a lack of truck stops and rest areas.

WINDSOR, Ont. – As many as 14,000 trucks cross North America’s busiest commercial border between Windsor-Detroit daily.

Yet, aside from the comparatively small Husky House truck stop on County Rd. 46 just outside Windsor city limits, there is no truck center that provides the kind of state-of-the-art facilities found elsewhere in Canada or the U.S.

And if Husky House, with its approximate 120-truck park capacity, is full – which it often is – truckers have no choice but to journey two hours further up Hwy. 401 to London where more facilities exist.

Husky House is “to capacity on that site, they can’t expand,” says Windsor realtor Greg Barlow, who represents Brad Coxon of Coxon’s Towing Service, who wants to develop a massive plaza a few kilometres east at the northeast corner of Hwy. 401 and Manning Rd.

“All these trucks go through Windsor and there’s really no place for them to go,” Barlow said. At night it’s the norm for drivers to park along ramps, a caravan a couple of kilometres or more long, to get shut eye. The proposed plaza has 117 acres all zoned “highway service,” and would have a hotel, truckers lounge, showers, Internet facilities, retail and restaurant.

Transportation industry officials have estimated commercial bridge traffic will expand to 20,000 daily truck crossings by 2005.

“This whole thing sort of gelled out of everything that’s happening in the truck industry here,” says Barlow. He adds Husky House “does a good job but they’re a gas station and a restaurant.”

Husky Energy’s downstream retail operations central division manager Barb Reimer, when asked how Husky may adjust to new competition, would only say that Husky truck stop, “is and always has been very competitive” and “will continue to focus on being competitively priced, offering quality products at good value, and providing great customer service to ensure that our customers keep coming back.”

Barlow said there have been “lots of inquiries” but no definite interest by truck plaza franchising corporations. He said the American-based companies, “don’t really get excited. You have to get the right guy who understands the 401 traffic.”

Paul Innes, a businessman and municipal councillor as well as president of the local North American Free Trade Agreement Superhighway Coalition, thought a new plaza “would make a great addition” for infrastructure support.

“It’s more than we currently have,” agrees Innes, adding that truck traffic has doubled in the past four years alone due to free trade. n


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