OTA okays Windsor border plan

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TORONTO, Ont. — Windsor’s proposed plan for improving the road and highway infrastructure leading to the Windsor-Detroit border crossing has met with the OTA’s approval.

The plan, released Friday, was hailed by OTA President David Bradley as a “significant step forward” in what has become a very long and highly contentious debate over what was initially supposed to be a short term solution to the traffic congestion approaching the border. (In September 2002, then Prime Minister Jean Chrtien and then Ontario Premier Ernie Eves announced they had agreed to jointly contribute $300 million over five years to alleviate some of the traffic problems in Windsor over the short term.)

"(The) announcement by the City of Windsor is a very
positive step," Bradley said. "It has taken a long time, but today we finally have a concrete proposal for moving forward a local solution with a national vision. It’s now up to the two senior levels of government to provide the necessary support and leadership to put the plan into action.
"This is welcome news for local businesses, as well as for importers, exporters and the trucking industry. By now everyone knows that the Windsor-Detroit gateway is the single most important trade link in the world. Given the importance of Canada-US trade to our economy, it is no understatement to say that the Windsor-Detroit border crossing is Canada’s economic lifeline. By creating greater freeway access to the border the infrastructure improvements contained in the plan should help improve the free flow of trade at Windsor-Detroit, so much of which is time-sensitive freight."

Bradley also commended Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis for his leadership in developing the plan and on its scope. "The plan contains a number of the key improvements we believe are necessary for the free flow of trade and for the protection of the Windsor community. For us the key issues were provision of a freeway-to-freeway access to the border; more separation of cars and trucks; and more choice in terms of border crossings. The plan attempts to address all of these objectives.”

Sam Schwartz Engineering PLLC (SSC) was retained by the City of Windsor to recommend how to address both commercial and passenger related traffic issues as they relate to the Detroit-Windsor border crossings. As an initial part of this work, SSC was to examine and evaluate current alternative proposals for new border crossings.

The border crossing proposals are seen as the long term solution to the problems of heavy international truck traffic on local streets in the City of Windsor. In addition, SSC was asked to consider other appropriate crossing alternatives.

The report also proposed a number of shorter-term actions regardless of the outcome of the Bi-National process, including at least one new roadway link between Hwy. 401 and the border. This link would provide a bypass to relieve existing congestion and unsafe conditions, says the report. The report also concludes, regardless of the BI-National process results, that a balanced transportation system be developed now which should include the following elements:

A new rail tunnel to accommodate double-decked trains
Rationalization of commercial and passenger rail lines
A multi-modal facility at the airport linking ground, air and rail transport
Increased capacity and attractiveness of the Truck Ferry
An ITS system to balance traffic between Windsor-Detroit and Sarnia-Port Huron
Improved operations at Detroit-Windsor Tunnel
Continuation of throughput capacity and operational improvements at the Ambassador Bridge.

For further information on the Schwartz report for both short and long-term solutions to the ongoing border congestion problem in Windsor, visit the City of Windsor Web site at www.citywindsor.ca

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