WINDSOR, Ont. — The majority of city councillors here don’t want to see Mayor Mike Hurst’s plot to block trucks from entering the city come to fruition, however the alternative may be just as bad.
The decision, while welcomed by truckers, angered local residents like Mike Weis, a professor at the University of Windsor. He asked city councillors what was important to them, “Is it corporate Canada and the truckers or is it the citizens who elected you to represent our interests?”
Fortunately Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, was on hand and served as a powerful voice of reason. He questioned what would happen to just-in-time delivery systems if trucks are banned from the long-standing routes. He painted a picture of economic gloom if council proceeded with the truck ban.
“A primary concern for any automotive manufacturer is an efficient border, whereby transportation costs and delivery times are reliable and dependable,” says Nantais. “Failure to satisfy any one of these factors resonates negatively when future investment decisions are being considered.”
The consensus opinion at the council table was to instead push the provincial and federal governments to cough up $1.2 million in funding to rig traffic lights on Huron Church with sensors. As well, council wants to ask that the number of U.S.-bound trucks entering the city be limited by forcing them into a holding area along Hwy. 401.
Councillor Joyce Zuk blasts senior levels of governments for 40 years of inaction and convinced her colleagues to support her move to press the province to allow trucks to queue on Hwy. 401 while waiting to cross the Ambassador Bridge.
The Ontario Trucking Association has already gone on record saying that while it sympathizes with the city’s woes, a truck holding area would not solve the backups, as most of the delays are being caused by U.S. Customs inspections, and by sheer volume.
Holding trucks on the 401 would only create more hazards, as the backlog would be moved to an area regularly travelled at much faster speeds. The potential for accidents would be tremendous.
The civic leaders are also to hold a meeting before the end of the month with representatives from the provincial and federal governments to discuss the issues further.
Zuk notes the city doesn’t have the resources to properly care for its road system, yet “we’re debating how we’re going to deal with an international border crossing.”
Traffic commissioner John Tofflemire is confident the province will implement a “real time” messaging system to offer truckers information about traffic delays at the U.S. border while they are en route.
They could then choose to either proceed to the Ambassador Bridge or divert to Sarnia’s Blue Water Bridge. He failed to recognize depending on where truckers are heading and their fleet’s routing procedures, making this decision may not be practical or even possible.
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