Manitoba, Ontario Explore Feasibility Of Joint-Use Border Facility
June 1, 2009
WINNIPEG, Man. - Manitoba's Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) says it is investigating the potential of developing a modern "state-of-the-art" joint-use border facility with Ontario'...
WINNIPEG, Man. –Manitoba’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) says it is investigating the potential of developing a modern “state-of-the-art” joint-use border facility with Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation.
The joint-use facility would primarily serve inspection and enforcement purposes, says Manitoba’s director of transportation systems planning and development, Amarjit Chadha.
The joint facility may also provide a broader range of services to the travelling public, providing public washrooms, visitor information services, and a commercial service center.
Chadha noted that options being considered for accommodating these expansive facility requirements will include exploring the feasibility of using more than one development area, within a half kilometre on either side of the border.
A major consideration for locating any joint-use border facility and service centre is the future twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway from Falcon Lake to Kenora.
Chadha confirmed that any future highway alignment will ultimately determine the location of potential development sites for new joint-use facilities, which will be used by a variety of provincial and federal agency services.
“Initially, some informal discussions regarding a range of enforcement and inspection issues that were emerging at the Manitoba-Ontario border, had been discussed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the province of Ontario, and the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC),” he says. “It was subsequently determined that a more formalized study process was required, that involved the participation of all relevant stakeholders.”
As a first step in the process of determining what the needs and requirements are for a potential joint-use facility, Manitoba’s MIT and Ontario’s MTO partnered in a previous stakeholder workshop, which was also attended by the CAHC, and various federal agencies such as the RCMP, Transport Canada and the Canadian Border Services Agency.
“The next step in the process will be to finalize study terms of reference for retaining a consultant to undertake detailed requirements/ alternatives assessment of a potential joint-use border facility, and to ensure this project is coordinated with work on twinning the Trans-Canada Hwy.,” says Chadha.
“(Ontario’s) MTO is currently in the process of engaging consultants to assess Trans-Canada twinning from Kenora to the border. (Manitoba) MIT is coordinating with MTO on the portion of the Trans-Canada twinning from the border to Falcon Lake.”
In a separate initiative, Manitoba is also undertaking a transportation facility study for the Emerson, Man./Pembina, North Dakota Port of Entry to assess methods of alleviating congestion at what is considered an important Canada-US gateway, due to a direct connection to the US Intersate system, or I-29.
The expansion is considered vital to expedite trade, consolidate services, address infrastructure priorities, improve pubic safety, and reduce border line-ups with vehicles waiting to enter the US, according to Chadha.
There are approximately 1,600 vehicles a day heading for the Emerson-Pembina crossing, of which approximately 65% are commercial trucks. Long line-ups for US inspections are frequent – especially on the weekends, when it’s not uncommon for the vehicle queue to be up to a mile long.
US-bound shoppers slow border traffic at Emerson, reports MIT, with the longest delays of any border crossing in Canada on Saturdays.
Unlike B.C.’s Pacific Highway crossing at Blaine, Wash., truckers do not get exclusive access through either side of the border crossing. In Manitoba, transport vehicles must join southbound tourists, including snowbirds heading south for the winter, often with camper trailers.
Frequent congestion often causes professional drivers to bypass the line-up, travelling on the shoulders. Otherwise, the overall average wait time at Emerson at peak, is 45 minutes, with off-peak being five to six minutes.
“Over the last few years we have seen a significant amount of traffic growth, largely in terms of trucking,” said Chadha. “My understanding is Pembina-Emerson is the fifth busiest border crossing in Canada. In the west, for the trucking (industry) it’s number one,” he added, while further noting that Emerson outpaces even B.C. with truck-based trade to the US totaling $16 billion.
Manitoba is currently collaborating with the North Dakota Department of Transportation to examine transportation improvements for making the Emerson- Pembina port of entry more efficient, states Chadha.
“Whatever happens at the border is not only to do with the vehicles, but also in terms of how these vehicles are inspected, and how many people they have there at the inspections (booths).” •
‘Over the last few years, we have seen a significant amount of traffic growth, largely in terms of trucking.’