From what I had understood, the Americans wanted the Ambassador Gateway Plaza as the landing spot for a bridge, the Canadians favoured a crossing somewhere near Prospect or slightly north to keep away from sinkholes (the Brock area seems to have disappeared rather quickly) and to link the two areas we would need this gigantic diagonal bridge.
I really could not believe that anyone was seriously going to propose this as a solution. It would be a "Signature Bridge" all right---a totally laughable solution whose extra costs would be huge, and the angle ridiculous. It truly seemed like a decision made by a committee!
Obviously, there must be disagreements between the two sides of the border. The Americans can rightfully say that they have already paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the Gateway and that is why they want it as their plaza. The Canadians seem to be saying that they want a bridge as far away from the Ambassador bridge as possible for redundancy/security reasons. The talk is that the concept of "public oversight" may mean "public ownership" of the new crossing but how would that fit in with what is being proposed and the Bridge Co.'s ownership of the Gateway?
So when I went to the meeting I decided to see how far I could press the various reps there to try and get an understanding of what may really happen. Of course I got the usual "we have to study this more" stuff. Let me give you my impressions since obviously no one would really answer my questions at this stage.
A more likely scenario is a bridge in the Prospect area that crosses directly into the US straight across the river and that links up to a plaza via a 6-lane truck expressway that is "secured" for Customs purposes. It would probably NOT use the Gateway itself but a separate area near the Gateway that would tie into the Gateway's traffic configuration and separately staffed by Customs officers.
Let us assume that is true...is it going to happen? I do not think so and let me explain why not:
- It just strikes me that this road structure is really like the City's WALTS road to the Ambassador Bridge (the Ring Road) except on the American side. If it was rejected for Canada, why is it acceptable on the US side (In fact, the Bi-national put forward a plaza for the Ambassador Bridge which killed their project that the Bridge Co. itself never advocated to my knowledge). I did not ask if this approach was consistent with their criteria for a crossing but it is one to remember for next time.
- Why would the Americans pay for this new 6 lane expressway and what areas will it disrupt
- Why would the Americans pay for this new plaza right next to the Gateway Plaza which the Americans already are paying for
- Will US Customs be willing to staff another crossing, especially one so close to the Gateway Plaza
- If terrorists can seize 4 airplanes, crash them into 3 separate buildings in 2 cities at about the same time and do something similar in London with several subway trains and buses, are they going to be put off by a new bridge a mile or so away from the existing bridge and tunnel? What security and redundancy are we really buying with that?
I must admit that when I put this all together, it made no sense to me either. Why are we going through this process? My final question was why aren't the Engineers being asked to look at the obvious spot on the DRIC map that begs out for completion....making the short right turn to the Ambassador Bridge (the missing yellow line on the proposed route) and "enhancing" it so that Sandwich residents are not inconvenienced. It just seems so obvious and so inexpensive and it uses the Ring Road which effectively is what the Engineers have proposed!
Of course I received no answer other than put this suggestion on a "Comment Card" so they can consider it!
So why are we going through this charade? I do not have the answer but I have a suspicion. Bill C-44, Schwartz's public authority, public oversight, the Border Czar....it all means ownership by the Government of the new crossing, primarily being promoted by the Canadian Governments. That is why we had the bizarre concept of the diagonal bridge: there is a big fight about how this is all going to end up between the Governments on both sides.
That is the only explanation also of the strange action by the Canadian Government in using its US law firm to threaten the Mayor and Council of Detroit. According to the Detroit News, they were told "Do not move forward with the city's proposal to connect the Ambassador Bridge to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, or Canada may take legal action...The plan is an international security threat and would provide Detroit businessman Matty Moroun with the equivalent of a monopoly over the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel."
Let's see, this is the Canadian Government telling the Americans what they can or cannot do on the US side? I assume the Americans still have the right to put THEIR customs officers where they want on the US side. Moreover, I assume it is US law that applies to whether there is a monopoly or not since it would be a US deal on the US side. Why is the Canadian Government butting in?
I assume that some genius in Ottawa or Toronto thinks that they can goad the Bridge Co. into doing something stupid so that the authorities have the justification for taking some drastic action against them. If so, this is becoming brinkmanship that could negatively impact the Canadian economy. Without too much difficulty, I can think of all kinds of retaliatory measures that could be taken by the Americans that would hurt our side of the border badly.
If this is to the Canadian Government as "Anybody But Moroun" then someone should have the guts to pick up the phone, call him and start the negotiations over price! I am sure that his price would take up a good part of the Liberals' budgetary surplus that they were otherwise going to bribe us with to get us to vote for them.
So the objective must be to wear him down with proposed routes to take his business away, introduce legislation and provide all kinds of irritants so that Matty will cry "Uncle." And of course, the city's hypocritical actions to start a lawsuit over a route they have supported for a year now makes no sense other than as part of an action to put more pressure on the Bridge Co. to slow down what they are doing.
The trouble is that Moroun will cry "Uncle" except he will cry "Uncle Sam!" We saw what Governor Granholm could do. Imagine if George W. got interested too. Then Windsor and Canada would be in real trouble!