Was The Transport Canada Report Cansulting to Windsor?
Wow, if anyone tries to damage the billion-dollar, short-term dream, a full-frontal attack! An editorial and a Henderson column. Why it was almost as bad as their criticism of the Mayor for his secrecy. At least Eddie learned not to cross the Star, I hope, for his sake. PM Paul had better do the same. It's a one-newspaper town after all.
Why print relevant parts of the actual report itself for readers and discuss in a rational fashion what it says. Nope, ad hominen attacks on the PM work better, including Councillor Brister telling us what the dead PM's father would have said about his boy. Now that is a stretch.
It seems that the Star Editorial board did not read the whole report. The consultant did provide a solution but since it favoured the Ambassador Bridge Company, it was ignored.
I thought I would give you my impressions of the Report and then let you read key sections for yourself below, along with my bracketed comments.
Clearly the Schwartz billion dollar short-term dream will not get anywhere since no federal money will be given. Cansult has very little good to say about it. In a nutshell, the Report said "the proposed Huron Church By-Pass [Schwartz Horse-shoe road] may not attract sufficient truck traffic to meet "needs and justification" requirements under the Province’s Environmental Act, may not effectively address current traffic issues, can most speedily be reviewed in the current DRIC study, has major capital cost implications, and may have little residual value if the "Industrial Crossing" is not selected. The Huron Church Road Truck By-Pass does not appear to have the attributes to be selected for an "early action" program."
If that is so, then what does Eddie do now? His legs have been cut out from under him. What does he negotiate for now? Moreover, he looks rather foolish for spending so much of taxpayer money and almost a year of effort on something that does not work and was not why he was elected in the first place. His reputation will suffer with all of those whom he persuaded that Schwartz made sense. Sounds like a similar after-effect on those who supported DRTP doesn't it?
Eddie based his position and that of Windsor on the Schwartz Report. He would NOT listen to the Community when negative comments were made about it. This Report destroys what he stood for and Windsor suffers.
Obviously, as we can see from the Star stories, the focus will shift from Eddie's failure to an image of the strong Mayor attacking the Feds on EC Row. But then again, Mike Hurst tried that tactic as mayor too. [Is it me or is Eddie acting more and more like Mike Hurst every day? The two of them always had an interesting relationship when Mike was Mayor and Eddie was a Councillor].
I have to agree with those who believe that the Report is designed to allow international trucks on EC Row ie the road between Lauzon (or perhaps Manning now) and Huron Church. After all, the author rightly points out that "The traffic using E.C. Row is generally local in nature and does not contain a significant percentage of traffic bound to or originating from the border crossings." Why then would someone retained by the Feds use up so much space, write so many pages and provide so much detailed information about a mere "local" road. The Feds cannot finance it under the BIF program anyway. When Ernie Eves was Premier, his rep when we met her in Windsor, had no desire to talk about EC Row at all since it was not viewed as a border road. If the road is virtually at capacity now and we know that the population is growing quickly, then added capacity must be for local vehicles only. Beware of Fed consultants bearing gifts!
The Bridge Co. should be pleased. Their position has been vindicated. The City's WALTS road which they proved could work was singled out as the road to use as a "reliever" road. Someone is still going to the nth degree to keep DRTP alive suggesting it could feed the Ambassador Bridge. Presumably the Feds would expropriate or buy it in a friendly deal (as was suggested in the original Joint Management Committee Report) to give OMERS some cash to save their balance sheet from another huge write-down and possible embarrassment in the Ontario Government FSCO Pension Plan investigation. That surely has to be the ultimate indignity for Mike Hurst and Co......DRTP as a mere feeder road to its biggest opponent!
Here are some actual excerpts from the Report. It is online at the Transport Canada website if you want a full copy of it.
- [I was surprised that there was no discussion of the Bridge Co.’s 200 booth proposal. Cansult ignores it. The Bi-national ignores it. The Mayor says it is not "serious." I guess no one seems interested in something that may solve our problems at relatively little cost for years to come.]
- There is currently adequate capacity at the Ambassador [and] extensive queues and delays (particularly on the Canadian side) have been largely eliminated due to operational improvements and changes in travel demands. [If there are no short-term problems then I have a hard time figuring out why another study is needed. He did not mention the decline in the Bi-national projected truck traffic numbers as well and the shift to rail and to Sarnia.]
- E.C. Row Expressway also serves a role in bringing traffic to the Ambassador Bridge. It…has reached capacity particularly in the vicinity of Howard and Dougall Avenues with other sections nearing capacity. [Once the "bold" was assumed then international trucks on EC Row is a natural conclusion that follows. Never mind that it is also inconsistent with #20 below]
- There are a substantial number of infrastructure improvement projects committed to or planned over the next few years both through the "Let’s Get Windsor/Essex Moving" strategy and local City projects.
- The proposed truck by-pass is about 8 km in length and by-passes only 2 km of Huron Church Road; travel times may actual increase using this new route.
- As well, the additional length of the by-pass and the existing residential uses in the Todd Lane area suggests that vehicle noise and emission impacts need to be addressed to determine if any benefits accrue.
- Many truckers complete preprocessing before leaving their trip origin or at other preprocessing centres (London, Windsor) so preprocessing facilities at Brighton Beach will not voluntarily attract many vehicles
- Unless legislation requiring all trucks crossing the border use this route it would not, in our opinion, meet the needs and justification requirements to obtain environmental assessment approval.
- In the event that a queue control system was required in the future, a location outside Windsor adjacent to Highway 401 could be operated more efficiently and cost effectively. [and provided that the investors got huge government grants. The object is to keep trucks moving not stacked up or else the pressure on US Customs is decreased]
- The construction of the Schwartz-preferred Huron Church Truck By-Pass would require major construction …Overall, depending on which segments of the access to the Schwartz Industrial Crossing are constructed, and the number of tunnel tubes (1, 2 or 3), the cost of the by-pass could range from $200-300 million. [No wonder the dream cost a billion]
- The Huron Church By-Pass is included in the ongoing DRIC study anticipated to be completed by the end of 2007. A new environmental assessment to study the Huron Church Truck By-Pass could not reasonably be anticipated to be completed much prior to this date.
- In the event the "Industrial Crossing" or "Twinning of the Ambassador Bridge" location is not selected by the DRIC study, the Huron Church Truck By-Pass could have little or no long term local benefit. [Interesting. We should build a road to serve Ojibway or the 200 booths or the Twinned Bridge, whichever is needed! The WALTS Road accomplishes that]
- The Huron Church Road Truck By-Pass does not appear to have the attributes to be selected for an "early action" program. [Finally, the end of Schwartz and the billion dollar short-term dream]
- Widening of E.C. Row to a 6 lane section is justified to relieve local traffic congestion. [I don’t get it. Why would the Feds and Province want to pay for a "local road."]
- Widening of E.C. Row would result in increased traffic volumes resulting in increased noise levels on adjacent areas unless appropriate mitigation measures can be implemented. Impacts on vehicle emissions would require further investigation. [This was adequately documented in the City's DRTP study]
- Widening of E.C. Row would provide for redundancy in the access system to the border crossing. [Is this the only time trucks could use it?]
- E.C. Row Expressway is a candidate for inclusion in the "early action" program to relieve traffic congestion in Windsor. [Not after Sandra said "no" in the Star]
- ...provision of a new auxiliary road to relieve Huron Church Road north of E.C. Row may be warranted. The only identified road improvement proposals that by-pass this section of Huron Church Road are the development of a new road corridor along the right-ofway of Essex Terminal Railway from the E.C. Row/Ojibway Parkway intersection to the Huron Church Road/College Avenue intersection or in the DRTP corridor to College Avenue. [This means the WALTS proposed Road. Do you admire the perseverance to salvage the unsalvageable DRTP? By heaven, we are going to give money to OMERS/CP Rail even if it kills us.]
- Proper traffic management measures should be taken to maintain or even slightly increase capacity and thus offset the effects of potential construction delays in the Talbot Road corridor. It can be reconstructed without the need for prior widening along alternative routes such as E.C. Row or Cabana Road. In fact, widening of Talbot Road first could provide additional roadway capacity to support other future projects. The significance of the construction impacts due to the Talbot Road improvement would depend on the ultimate design of the road. If the ultimate widened 6 lanes of Talbot Road are to be atgrade then proper construction techniques can be applied to phase the project so that two lanes in each direction can be maintained during construction. [Then why do trucks need to go on E C Row? I am glad to know that Cabana may now be destroyed too as it becomes an east-west major artery for excess traffic.]
- The traffic using E.C. Row is generally local in nature and does not contain a significant percentage of traffic bound to or originating from the border crossings. A widening to address the current levels of congestion on E.C. Row may already be warranted. Such a widening would also help to mitigate the impacts from the increased volume of traffic (both temporary and permanent increases) expected to divert to this facility during the construction of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 “Let’s Get Windsor/Essex Moving” projects.
If the widening of E.C. Row Expressway to six lanes were undertaken, some spare capacity may exist in the mid-term to consider the use of E.C. Row itself as a secondary route to Huron Church Road, in lieu of the over $200 - $300 million truck bypass route proposed in the Schwartz Report. In the anticipation that the use of E.C. Row Expressway as a secondary route would only be a mid-term condition (until a new border crossing is constructed), the work associated with the widening and upgrading of the expressway would serve a double duty in satisfying both the mid-term and longer-term needs of the City of Windsor. However, this dual function would operate efficiently only in the short term. [All those detailed pages describing E C Row and how to fix it. Why is this being done in a report designed for the border? The Feds and Province are not going to pay for a "local road" under the BIF program. It is disingenuous to suggest that this is being considered for Windsor's benefit. "Temporary" use by trucks like the GST or the Income Tax I assume]
- If the improvements suggested above are not adequate to address the mid-term needs, other alternatives should be explored to get traffic to the Ambassador Bridge off Huron Church Road. The only currently identified road improvement proposals that by-pass this section of Huron Church Road are the development of a new road corridor from the E.C. Row/Ojibway Parkway intersection to the Huron Church Road/College Avenue intersection and a new road alignment along the Essex Terminal right-of-way from the vicinity of Highway 401/Walker Road to College Avenue.
Unless other alternatives are identified, it is suggested that studies/property acquisition proceed on a schedule such that its implementation could be undertaken by 2013, if required. [Support for the Bridge Co.'s proposed routing that proved that the City's WALTS route worked! DRTP is snuck in but only as a way to connect to this route]