WINDSOR, Ont. – The city’s outgoing mayor Mike Hurst, has taken to task his city council, as well as other opponents of the so-called “nine point” federal-provincial scheme to improve truck routes at Canada’s busiest international crossing.
Hurst made the remarks during a speech to the Windsor Transportation Club, which represents local shippers, customs brokers, truck and rail interests, among others.
The proposed $300 million plan, backed by the auto manufacturing and parts industries, as well as by the Ontario Trucking Association, would reroute trucks from Highway 3 and much of Huron Church Rd. and put them across town on a new east side connector to Highway 401.
Trucks would also travel through a planned industrial area, as well as on a widened EC Row Expressway – which skirts the south side of the city – and finally connect to existing or new border links, and on to Detroit’s interstate system.
Yet opponents, citing pollution, congestion and noise, have decried any route that would have the estimated 12,000 daily trucks travel through a larger area of the city, even if on limited access roads.
Hurst said the main purpose of the EC Row, which opened more than 30 years ago and was named after a former Chrysler Canada president who “saw the importance” of it as a trade highway, was to “make transport easier and provide better access to the border.”
The highway was designed “to support economic growth in the region as the need arose” and in fact has already been expanded eastward to accommodate trucks to serve a new Ford engine manufacturing plant, Hurst said.
The status quo, with aging infrastructure of bridge and tunnel for trucks and motorists, and a separate rail tunnel – and which collectively date more than 200 years – is unacceptable, he added.
The “narrow, inadequate, constricted” link between the “power plant” economies of Windsor and Detroit, is choking international trade with backups of thousands of trucks “trying to get from one side of the Detroit River to the other,” he said. Any environmental concerns would be well handled by “rigorous and transparent evaluation” under environmental assessment legislation, said Hurst, who after four terms decided not to seek re-election this fall.
“This is a time for courage and decision,” Hurst said.
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