of trucks rumble through Olde Walkerville via Wyandotte Street,
both day and night.
on the Border
Chris Edwards, Publisher
Detroit-Windsor train tunnel in 1912
folks in this fair community realize border truck traffic has gone
mad. Trucks are frequently backed up for miles along Huron Church
Road waiting to get on the Ambassador Bridge.
How did it come to this?
it on free trade. Instead of ruining our economy as predicted by
naysayers, free trade has created a trading bonanza, with most cross-border
goods shipped by truck.
Canada signed Free Trade Agreements, first with the USA and then
with Mexico (the current NAFTA deal), traffic waiting to cross the
bridge has more than doubled.
to recent studies, our bridge handles about one-quarter of the $400
billion dollars in trade between Canada and the USA. A potential
for lots of trucks stuck at the border.
With the adoption of “Just-in-Time Delivery” (a system
used by virtually every automaker and auto parts manufacturers to
reduce inventory and warehousing by relying on parts that arrive
only when needed) combined with the cross-border trade of everything
from household goods to Mexican produce, and there are just too
many trucks trying to make it across.
downside of “Just-in-Time” has been the decline of freight
train use. Freight trains would ease much congestion and would be
far better for our environment. However, realistically most shipping
will be done by truck for the foreseeable future.
September 11th terrorist attack brought tightened security at the
border and exposed a huge problem – the bridge is vulnerable
to slowdowns because it only has four-lanes. It became fairly evident
that greater capacity would be required to prevent a meltdown of
our economy, should another border crackdown occur, such as the
one anticipated by a war with Iraq. Both the federal and provincial
governments have pledged funds – up to $1 billion to fix the
have now come to the proverbial crossroads; decisions made this
year by the federal and province governments will impact everyone
in our community for years to come.
there are four main proposals to increase capacity at the border:
the Canadian Transportation Company/Ambassador Bridge Corporation
By-Pass Concept, to redirect truck traffic off Huron Church from
the E.C. Row to Ojibway, and circle back to the bridge through Olde
Sandwich Towne; the Mich-Can group proposal to build a new bridge
from Detroit to Ojibway connecting to the E.C. Row and presumably
to Hwy. 401; the City of Windsor’s proposal to extend E.C.Row
to the 401 with a Lauzon Parkway extensions; and a consortium called
the Detroit Railway Tunnel Partnership (DRTP) a plan to convert
existing rail lines into a dedicated two-lane truck highway, a “Tradeway”
from the 401 along the Canada Southern rail lines through the old
Michigan Central Railway Tunnel and onto the I-75 freeway in Detroit.
The DRTP Tradeway includes plans for a new train tunnel to handle
proposals for Windsor truck traffic: winners and losers
Click here or on the map for
a larger view
date, the “Stop DRTP” camp has been winning the local
PR campaign, if media coverage is the barometer. Little has been
made of the Ambassador Bridge Company’s proposal to build
a super-highway through the west end (nicknamed “the Sandwich
Moat,” as it would carve the historic community in two) and
virtually nothing has been written lately about the Mich-Can bridge
deal – the only proposal NOT seeking government money. It
is instructive to note that Mayor Hurst and Windsor City Council
are opposed to all three proposals (more on this later).
it be a coincidence the “Stop DRTP”camp – opposed
to the Tradeway route because it passes near their spanking new
homes built along the railroad tracks – has more money, more
influence and bigger houses than the folks in Sandwich? (Ironically,
the supplies to build those shiny new homes were delivered by the
very trucks they now want to ban from the DRTP Tradeway.)
we are witnessing is simply a form of neighbourhood discrimination
on the part of the “Stop DRTP” camp – in other
words, NIMBYs (“Not In My Backyard”) in action: the
“Stop DRTP” group is focused on their own backyard,
and not the proposal to gut Sandwich Town.
the rhetoric employed by “Stop DRTP,” the DRTP Tradeway
route does not “cut our city in half.” Construction
of the two mile Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, begun in 1908 and
completed in 1910, was considered an engineering marvel at the time.
At its peak, more than 100 trains passed daily through this tunnel
en route to points east; small wonder lands along the rail lines
were left largely vacant, until the recent building boom.
November, I had the opportunity to ride along the route proposed
by the DRTP, a consortium of Canadian Pacific Railway and Borealis
Transportation, owned by The Ontario Municipal Employees Union.
we made our way along the proposed Tradeway route,
I couldn’t help but notice new housing right up against the
tracks. At the time, I wondered who would want to build a quarter
million dollar house next to a railroad line?
DRTP route makes much sense and is forward-thinking, and here’s
why: trucks will be taken off our roads. A huge border bottleneck
will be addressed; congestion at the bridge will be eased –
not solved – but eased.
solutions will have to be considered, including the Mich-Can proposal
and Bridge’s by-pass off Huron Church Road. This is bad news
for both Sandwich and the “Stop DRTP” camp.
it wasn’t the original DRTP proposal that stirred the folks
now living on the wrong side of the tracks – the DRTP concept
has existed for over a year. The Canada-Ontario Joint Management
Committee’s recommendation, released late last year, supporting
the DRTP route and an expanded E.C. Row from Dougall to Huron Church
Road, grabbed headlines and marshalled the troops.
was surprising was the mayor and some city councillors’ reactions
– fierce opposition to this proposal that would ”cut
through the heart of our community.”
The proposed by-pass to the bridge,
dubbed the Sandwich “Moat” by locals.
am still trying to figure out how the use of E.C. Row in the joint
committee report differs from Mayor Hurst and Chief Traffic Engineer
John Tofflemire’s “farsighted” proposal to solve
the border bottleneck, unveiled last year.
you’ll recall, the mayor supported expanding E.C. Row to 6-lanes,
and the creation of an international “super-highway”
from Highway 401 along a Lauzon Parkway extension, for truck and
car traffic headed to the bridge.
big problem with this plan is that it doesn't relieve truck traffic
along Huron Church Road to the border, nor does it create greater
access or options for trucks travelling to the USA. The mayor simply
wanted a new way to direct traffic to Huron Church – after
that, same old bottleneck at the bridge!
more residents living along and using E.C. Row would be impacted
had the mayor’s proposal been adopted by the Canada-Ontario
Joint Management Committee, including folks who live in Forest Glade
and commuters from Tecumseh and points east (if you really want
to see poor traffic engineering in action, try commuting on the
E.C. Row from Lakeshore to the city in the morning or vice versa
in the afternoon).
of us who actually live in the “heart of the city,”
(a buzzword used time and again by that civic-minded “Stop
DRTP” camp) have seen the 18-wheelers parade down Walker Road
onto Wyandotte Street, through Walkerville, seeking a shortcut to
the bridge. Other favoured truck routes include Ouellette, Goyeau
years ago, we wrote an editorial and complained to city traffic
engineering (an oxymoron in this town) about trucks rumbling down
Wyandotte. We called for a complete ban of 18-wheelers on Wyandotte
(read this @ www.walkervilletimes.com/wyandotte.htm).
At that time, Katnandu owner Nancy Drew said: ”I counted 69
trucks passing by my business on Wyandotte and Windermere –
in half an hour.” Three years later it’s no better here
in the “heart of the city.”
trucks from Wyandotte would be “impossible,” came the
reply from councillors and engineers alike. No doubt it was just
a coincidence that Tofflemire proposed removing parking on Wyandotte
in the WALTS study, which would’ve turned Wyandotte into a
highway. That nonsensical idea has at least been put on hold for
real issue in this debate, largely ignored by the NIMBYs, is truck
capacity at the border, which has become the very engine of our
booming economy. If we want to continue to attract automotive plants
to the region, then we’d better get our border truck traffic
moving and open new crossings. Otherwise, those plants are headed
to Arkansas and Mississippi (can you say “recession”?)
some body will have trucks passing near their homes; that much is
as the mayor declared in his recent state-of-the-city address, he
is truly concerned about creating automotive jobs, then he should
focus on solutions to our border mess by adding capacity either
through the Tradeway, or with a new bridge – or both.
more thing – the DRTP corridor would provide local traffic
engineers with the impetus to completely ban 18 wheel trucks from
the city’s centre, with some exceptions; in effect, removing
much of the truck traffic from the inner city. Imagine a truck free
“heart of the city.”
there’s a breath of fresh air!