Tunnel Expansion "Postponed"
On Friday, they published a very nice story about the Tunnel Plaza Improvement public session where Windsorites would have the opportunity to view what was going to be done at the Tunnel. Some time earlier, Eddie killed the meeting. Oh sorry, "postponed" it as the ad said in Saturday's Star
I would have thought that he would have had the decency to call up the Star the night before to suggest that they not run the story. He tells them almost everything on the border in advance doesn’t he? Oh well, an oversight. I hope the Editors do not get too mad at him since he must be pre-occupied with his skating lessons.
The meeting was designed to allow to showcase what was being proposed especially the main justification: “The expanded plaza should have enough space to accommodate the queuing traffic instead of on the streets.” Well, that problem was already solved by a change in queuing rules at the Tunnel and the 10% drop in traffic numbers since July but let’s pretend we forgot about that.
I heard that the City initially wanted to say that the meeting was cancelled so the new Tunnel Commissioners could see the project plans before the public. That ruse was so obviously not the case, that the explanation was pulled.
Let’s try and figure out what really happened. The chatter around town was that something was going on with the Tunnel, something big on the financial side. I was not sure if that meant change in ownership or management on the Detroit side or both sides or what. Given Eddie’s cancellation, it was pretty clear he was caught by surprise. I wonder who he called on the Detroit side to talk about it on Friday. The rumour mill was active on that one too.
I must admit that I wondered if the Feds knew about the rumours too given their strong reaction about a year ago with proposed Tunnel changes and the passing of Bill C-3 by the Commons and Senate. My guess was that were not in the loop either or they would never have let the proposed public meeting take place in the first place. Why would they allow Eddie to embarrass them too.
I doubt if the the Bridge Co. was involved or it would have been plastered all over the front page of the Star to try and stop anything they would try and do.
Then I got to thinking. I saw the story in the Star on Friday also about the Peace Beacon and its $603K increase or about 25% over the original cost. Then I remembered the funky Bus Terminal downtown. Wasn’t its cost over-run about 35% over original estimate? Streetscaping costs downtown had tripled I thought. The overpass on Huron Church Road was higher than expected. And the Tunnel Ventilation building---who knew what the excess costs there were!
I got this cold shiver down my spine when I remembered the $200K extra for soil problems at the land downtown for the arena exchange and recalled what Don Sadler said about contaminants at the Lear site:
- “There are no environmental issues," said Don Sadler, the city's director of parks.
The area, which sits behind the Lear plant on Lauzon Road, was inspected for metals and other contaminants, Sadler said.”
What did Sadler say at the Peace Beacon site:
- “Every shovel full was another nightmare," said parks director Don Sadler. "There was no way of knowing without x-ray eyes the extent of everything that was in there….
"Soon as we got digging down a little bit deeper to place the footings, then we ran into a tremendous problem.
Sadler doesn't blame the firm hired to conduct the test because the problems could be missed when digging so deep. "At 50-foot intervals, you don't always hit every pocket."
My goodness, I hope they did not do 50-foot intervals at the arena site…BRRRR my wallet gets cold and emptier just thinking about it!
So I made a big leap. I bet that the meeting was cancelled when Eddie finally saw the real estimates for the project. One of the obvious questions that the public would ask is what would this cost since so much property is going to be expropriated and then built on. There would be tough negotiations with Burger King and the Duty Free Shop who own property there. Expropriation would cost a lot of money given the Casino expansion and the expected increase in business. And who knows what contaminants could be lurking under the soil.
The original deal signed some time ago was $30 million, $10 million for each level of government. So after almost 3 years of “study,” and their timetable for construction (2009 start) what would the cost be now I thought.
If I looked at the various projects the City has failed in estimating properly, I figured a cost over-run of about 25-35% or say $9 million averaging amounts (Eddie likes to average doesn’t he!)
Doing some simple math, that means Eddie has to find another $3M somewhere if the costs are split or $9M if the City has to pay it all.
I wonder if we will see the accounting magic of bridge financing to see this through. Unfortunately, since the Tunnel has lost traffic volume, revenues have decreased and dividends ended. He cannot get money from there. City Reserves are down dramatically too so that is out. A tax increase---hardly, when Eddie wants to run on a fiscal responsibility platform provincially.
So Eddie has to grovel now….no wonder Halberstadt and Brister are making nice to the Senior Levels. Eddie loves them now and needs their friendship desperately….they are his allies against the big, bad Bridge Company.
But what if they say NO! We agreed on $10M each. Go fund it yourself since it is your asset.
Oh well, cancelling the public session gives Eddie time to try and pull another rabbit out of his hat or to allow another Star attack on the Senior Levels, especially Sandra so they will knuckle under.
This time around, I think they have Eddie by the short and curlies and they will know it when he comes to visit, cap in hand.
Hmmm I have an idea to help out. But Eddie would have to have the guts to phone Dan Stamper. How would Eddie explain that away to the Senior Levels and the public after what he did and said before. And how will he dare face Stamper after putting forward the Interim Control By-law to try to hurt the business of the Bridge Co.