WINDSOR, Ont. - An outcry by neighbourhood residents has resulted in the city's banning of heavy trucks making left-hand turns from one long-time truck artery onto another, which is also the city's ex...
WINDSOR, Ont. – An outcry by neighbourhood residents has resulted in the city’s banning of heavy trucks making left-hand turns from one long-time truck artery onto another, which is also the city’s expressway.
For a six-month period, the city will test the efficacy of a ban on trucks heading north along Dougall Ave. and turning west on to E. C. Row Expressway.
Dougall Avenue, a four-lane roadway which is in part a parkway divided by a median strip, and which also contains several strip plazas and commercial businesses, has long been one of the principal access routes for cars and trucks into Windsor. It’s also the most direct route from Hwy. 401 to the Windsor-Detroit tunnel.
The neighbours have been complaining about heavy trucks causing damage to their homes, such as cracks in walls and foundations. They say truck traffic has increased in recent years, which might be a by-product of the periodic back-ups in traffic further west along the city’s main truck route to the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit, Hwy. 3 and Huron Church Rd. Trucks have been circumventing those tie-ups and taking the less travelled Dougall, then cutting across town on E. C. Row which intersects Huron Church and heads further west to the city’s Ojibway industrial park. “It may be that that forced (truckers) to look at an alternative route and then they say,’Hey, now we like this route better’,” Drew Dilkens, the city councillor who represents the south end of the city where the road is located, said.
Trucks will still be allowed to use Dougall. They just won’t be able to make a left-hand turn at the E. C. Row Expressway.
They will be able to continue north towards the tunnel or turn at other intersections.
The decision drew a rebuke from the Ontario Trucking Association. The OTA’s vice-president of public affairs Doug Switzer lambasted city council for interfering with commerce and a bonafide truck route. “We wonder why we keep losing out of investment dollars, why plants and dollars are moving out,” he told CKLW radio.
Ironically, the route is one of the better designed arterial roads for trucks and has some of the lightest truck traffic in the city.
Steve Kapusta, a Windsor transportation planner who worked on the file, said that with a heavy truck count of one every three minutes and a total truck count of one per minute, the street has “very light volume,” noting “Dougall actually experiences less truck traffic than most other arterial roads.”
Kapusta authored a report to city council which argued against a ban, suggesting it “may do more harm than good” because it could “shift trucks to other areas of the city” at the expense of other residents. Other possible access routes to E. C. Row are Walker, Howard and Manning roads.
Dilkens suggested truckers liked turning from Dougall to E. C. Row because the ramp grade is not as steep as at other interchanges, saying “they just prefer that route for that reason.”
Said Kapusta,”These people (residents) chose to live on Dougall. I don’t necessarily believe it’s the city’s responsibility to change the context in which they already chose to live.”
Another city councillor, Fulvio Valentinis, who represents a different city ward, feared truck traffic would just become more congested as trucks bypassed E. C. Row heading north and made left turns on to Tecumseh Road in the heart of the city.
“They’re going to (move on) and then turn off on Tecumseh – not all of them, but enough of them to make life miserable for those people who will be impacted by that,” he said.
Valentinis said numerous other arteries are plagued by much worse truck traffic, such as Wyandotte Street where light pole decorations have been clipped by trucks which pass “literally eight feet” from second floor bedrooms.
Kapusta said the temporary ban may be a result of pent-up frustration by a city long plagued by trucks.
“I think (city council) is really sensitive to a lot of the truck issues,” he said. “It’s really trying to focus on looking like we’re doing something or at least trying something to see if it makes any difference.”
Valentinis said the time has come for the city to sit down with the trucking community and plan a rational system of truck routes “and let’s cut out the short-cutting.”
The city’s study of trucks using Dougall found the overwhelming majority of them were making local deliveries and not crossing the border to Detroit.
The provincial and federal governments are soon expected to announce the final design and location of a west side connecting highway between Hwy. 401 and a new bridge to the United States to expedite cross-border truck traffic.