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Public meetings on Windsor start next week

OTTAWA, Ont. - Community outreach will begin next week as part of the Bi-National environmental assessment process ...

OTTAWA, Ont. – Community outreach will begin next week as part of the Bi-National environmental assessment process for new crossing capacity at Windsor.

Canadian Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre and Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar made the announcement today.

“The Windsor-Detroit Gateway is of vital importance to the economic future of the Windsor region, Southwestern Ontario and the rest of Canada,” said Lapierre. “The Government of Canada remains committed to doing its share to make the Gateway work for all Canadians.”

Over the next few weeks and months, the consultants for the Bi-National Partnership will be holding community events to listen to the thoughts and concerns of all interested parties.

“Windsor is Canada’s busiest and most important border crossing. Over 16 million vehicles, and over $120 billion in goods cross through this gateway each year,” said Takhar. “Our economy depends on keeping traffic moving. That’s why a new or expanded border crossing is a priority for the Government of Ontario.”

The Governments of Canada, the United States, Ontario and Michigan are moving forward, through the Bi-National Partnership, to implement a 30-year, five-phase transportation strategy addressing the various challenges at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway, including free and secure trade, security, environmental concerns and community impacts.

The Bi-National Partnership has initiated the environmental assessment process, which is supposed to lead to new or expanded crossing capacity to meet the long-term needs of the region. It is expected that the preferred corridor will be selected by the end of 2006, and the full environmental assessment will be completed in 2007, at which time the Bi-National Partnership will have developed, consulted on and carried out a preliminary design of a recommended plan for additional border capacity. Construction should begin in 2010, leading to the opening of additional crossing capacity in 2013, around the same time as the Ambassador Bridge is projected to reach capacity.

As part of the Partnership’s commitment to working with local and municipal councils, briefings on the environmental assessment phase will be held as follows:

* Windsor City Council on March 21, 2005;
* LaSalle Council on March 22, 2005; and
* Amherstburg Council on March 29, 2005.

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