Ontario, Feds commit $300 million to Windsor border

WINDSOR, Ont. (May 29, 2003) — The federal and Ontario governments announced they will invest $300 million to improve border efficiency at the busiest commercial crossing in North America

The amount almost equals the $325 million the two levels of government pledged last week to improve flow at three other border crossings at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, and the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia.

The traffic problems and congestion at the Windsor/Detroit Ambassador Bridge gateway has been a hot-button issue for years, and has only intensified since Sept. 11, when increased border scrutiny choked traffic flow more than ever.

The crossing is the busiest in North America, and the gateway where the majority of time-sensitive freight between the two countries passes through. There is no freeway access to the border. Instead, trucks travel the 9 km stretch between Highway 401 and the Ambassador Bridge via Huron Church Road, where traffic, pedestrians, and 16 stop lights converge to create a bottleneck that constricts trade flows, and puts severe strain on infrastructure.

Back in September the federal and Ontario governments agreed jointly to contribute $300 million over the next 5 years to help alleviate the problems. However, according to the Ontario Trucking Association optimism for the announcement fizzled when debate on how to spend the money, as well as “local politics, self interest and competing border crossing schemes made this issue a political quagmire.”

However, the new plan is said the address such spending issues. According to OTA president David Bradley, there are three keys to fixing the border. “One is infrastructure. Another is a bi-national system of efficient customs/security clearance. The third is good relations with our major trading partner,” he said. “Today’s announcement is a part of that puzzle.”

Some details of the 9-point Windsor-Gateway Action Plan are as follows:

— the province will assume full responsibility for E.C. Row Expressway between Lauzon Parkway and Ojibway Parkway, and will widen it by one lane in each direction. It will also assume responsibility for Lauzon Parkway south of E.C. Row Expressway and will extend/upgrade the highway from Highway 401 to E.C. Row.

— improvements to Highway 3/Huron Church Road, including the grade separation of the Tecumseh Road intersection north of E.C. Row Expressway, pedestrian overpasses at key locations and the grade separation of all major intersections between Highway 401 and E.C. Row Expressway to improve the flow of traffic and enhance the safety of residents.

— plans to assist the Canadian Transit Company (Ambassador Bridge) and Detroit River Tunnel Partnership in their efforts to build connections to the border crossings, concurrent with the Bi-National Planning Process.

— Seek the City of Windsor’s commitment to put in place arrangements to support the redevelopment of Windsor-Detroit tunnel plaza.

— Promote the development of commercial vehicle pre-processing and staging areas to expedite and improve the flow of trucks across the border, as well as new technology that will facilitate the flow of traffic and enhance access to the border.

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