Which Solution Is Best For Sandwich/Delray
It was an interesting question that followed on from the Blog I wrote recently about the ending of DRIC and what would happen next.
Here's the dilemma as was stated in today's Star:
- "There will be difficult decisions with some real tradeoffs," said Wake. [DRIC's Dave Wake of the Ontario Transportation Ministry]
One potential conflict introduced to the public this week is Crossing Alternative C, a proposed bridge span west of Prince Road that comes closest to Windsor's historic Sandwich area. Wake acknowledged it would have the greatest residential impact on the Canadian side but that it poses the least impact on the U.S. side.
The Sandwich bridge crossing also boasts the shortest river span at 735 metres -- a half-kilometre less than the 1,220-metre span of Alternative A in Brighton Beach, which is the furthest removed from Windsor residential neighbourhoods. Alternative B lies in between and would see an 870-metre span just south of Prospect Avenue.
- No action
- 200 booths on the US side
- New bridge and plaza somewhere in Windsor's West End and in Delray
- Twinned Bridge
Let's get one thing stated upfront. No matter what the solution is, Windsor roads to the border must be upgraded and soon. The road to the existing bridge must be built now and must be able to connect to a new border crossing if one is ever built since it will be at least another 8 years, or probably more, before a new bridge is built under DRIC.
The Detroit Mayor has forced the issue and has put the focus right on Eddie with his letter to the Governor. That will teach our Mayor about playing in someone else's backyard and trying to embarrass Kwame before the Detroit election. And Kwame has months more time to have fun with Eddie before our next municipal election unless he decides to take pity on Eddie. [Note Eddie has still not learned his lesson...I guess Eddie will use his newly developed, delegation cross-examination skills on the Detroit Mayor: "I'm going to raise the issue with him," Francis said. "If he feels a border crossing is 'unneeded and unwanted' I need to know what he's basing that on." I wonder if Kwame will even talk to Eddie now since he no longer needs our "snow clearing" services!]
The "Windsor roads" issue came up again at the Joint Councils meeting in Detroit where the Mayor was forced to admit that we have been sitting on $300 million in BIF funds for over 3 years, since September 25, 2002, and have done nothing to fix our roads (but did take action and spend money secretly to try and operate the Tunnel). It also came up in the Lansing hearings where a Senator said that fixing our roads was probably cheaper than building a new bridge!
Those funds were "to upgrade existing infrastructure on the Ontario approaches to the Windsor-Detroit border crossings." Eddie said he had plans for the money. But if macho Councillor STOPDRTP/Budget has his way, we may get involved in lengthy and expensive litigation over the road. [Litigation was the message I got out of the Windsor Council meeting in Tecumseh so the Mayor and Councillors can hide behind solicitor-client privilege before the next election.]
What else could Eddie do but say "he was in agreement with Kilpatrick that Windsor's roads leading to the border need to be fixed..." Unfortunately for everyone, Eddie has no Plan for doing so other than getting people agitated and concerned so he can be re-elected. That's what the South Windsor arena meeting and DRIC response meeting, which was so last-minute that it had to be held in Tecumseh, were all about. And that darn Alan McKinnon speech and the reaction afterwards hurt that game-plan too.
This lack of action has been noted on the other side and commented on to our detriment. The Governor is well aware of the issue as are the Mayor and Councillors in Detroit now. State politicians in Michigan who are fighting to find funds to build new roads in their part of the State or to repair existing roads do not seem too sympathetic to Windsor that is sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in roadbuilding funds and is doing nothing. The Feds are aware too through Jim Steele of the Federal Highways Authority who claimed that he is the US Federal decision-maker.
Our approach to forcing the Americans to spend even more money money to preserve our Sandwich "heritage" rings somewhat hollow notwithstanding the bus tour proposed to be set up by the Ward 2 Councillors to influence the other side.
So let us assume that we will get a new road built, if you were a Sandwich or Delray resident which option would work best for you?
Clearly the No Action and 200 booth alternatives should make good sense. Nothing changes in that part of the world ie no new bridge, no new plaza. Traffic volumes are down, nothing should make them increase dramatically that we can see so why do anything. The 200 booths do not impact Windsorites at all since they are located in Detroit and are far away from Delray. Reverse customs should solve the redundancy issue.
What about a brand new bridge? It also will require a brand new plaza. Isn't that what the fighting is all about now? No matter where a new bridge and plaza are located, someone gets hurt. Is a bridge going into Sterling Fuels or Delray West? Why do we need to give up over 100 acres of prime industrial land in Brighton Beach? We hear Sandwich crying about their history and heritage and the same for those who live in Delray and who do not want to move.
Does this seem to make a whole lot of sense?
Then there is the Twinned Bridge. The Ambassador Gateway Plaza is almost completed on the US side. On the Canadian side, there is an industrial area where the Bridge Co. now has land that could be used for a plaza that would not impact neighbourhoods negatively and could link up with the DRIC road to the border easily. Dan Stamper in Detroit at the Joint Councils session I thought said that a new bridge would only impact 30 homes most of which they already own I believe.
While it is heresy to even think about a Twinned Bridge in Windsor, to be realistic, does one really think that Governments are going to spend billions to build a new bridge and duplicate the infrastructure that is already built on the US side a mile or so down the road?
Fix the roads in Windsor, either do nothing or build 200 booths in the intermediate period and deal with the inevitable and plan for it IF it is ever needed. Worrying about where new bridges and plazas should go makes no sense to me any more and just hurts residents on both sides of the border with the uncertainty.
It's time for us to get on with life after all of this hell! We have serious problems in Windsor that need our undivided attention already. We are tired of the games Council is playing. We can see through them as the applause for McKinnon should have demonstrated clearly. That is emphasized by the fact that there was no gushing Star editorial on the Joint Councils meeting and a luke-warm Henderson column on the Tecumseh meeting.
Do the Mayor and Council get the message yet? That, Councillor Zuk, is the real reason why you and your colleagues feel the hostility!