A Secure Vote Of Confidence
I guess the US Government appreciates what the Bridge co. does at the border!
I have listed before all of the different objections that have been thrown at the Bridge Co. to try and stop them, all of which have fallen by the wayside since they were not valid ones:
- Traffic volumes increasing......they are actually lower than 1999
- Capacity at the bridge...it is only around 50% now
- Congestion....new booths and the new ABCP centres should help by quadrupling capacity if Customs does their job too
- Destruction of Sandwich or Delray or both...the Enhancement Project requires no new lands and stays within the existing bridge plazas
- Redundancy...the old bridge does that and Neal Belitsky has also said the Tunnel provides back-up as would a new DRTP rail tunnel
- Security....where's reverse customs
- Bridge road...Canada and Ontario have not done their job while Eddie fiddles and stalls.
1) Ambassador Wilson at Mackinac, calling on superior forces for help as well:
- "I would like to add a few additional points on the Ambassador Bridge and the plans for a new crossing.
This crossing is strategically very important for both of our countries, for the reasons I just stated...
Equally, we also need reliable infrastructure in place in case, god forbid, there is another major event that may affect our access across the border."
2) Mark Butler of Transport Canada:
- "...a new gateway that distances itself from the Ambassador Bridge is essential to Canadian and U.S. economies.
DRIC has "rejected the twinning of the Ambassador Bridge," Mr. Butler says, citing concerns that Mr. Moroun's twinned structure would...also be vulnerable to a terrorist attack that could wipe out both bridges at once."
"What we do know is that any new crossing must be safe and secure"
3) Steve Tobocman, Michigan State House Representative
- "I know that certainly on the Homeland Security front, twinning the Ambassador Bridge has raised huge issue, national security experts talk about redundancy and resiliency about how we would recover from a terrorist attack putting two bridges right next to each other
4) And who could forget our Senator Kenny.
Just so you do not think that security issues are unique to the Ambassador Bridge, here is what Thomas E. Garlock, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission general manager and President, Bridge and Tunnel Operators Associationsaid to the Senate Committee on Bill C-3:
- "The security at these crossings is an issue that became far more serious in the past five years. It would be reasonable for members of the committee to think, "Well, there are federal agencies on each end of all these crossings. Are they not responsible for security?" The answer is no. When there is a bomb threat at one of my bridges, customs from both countries tell us, "When you get to the bottom of it and everything is clear, call us and we will come back." We have worked with law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border to address that kind of a situation."
Read this and find out how well the Bridge Co. has done. It should now put the security concern to bed provided that the 2 countries introduce reverse customs at land crossings as they do in other locations like air, rail and marine crossings:
- Privately Owned Bridge Faces Public Criticism Over Security
By Brian Padden, 15 June 2007, Voice of America
The busiest truck border crossing in North America is the Ambassador Bridge. It connects the U.S. Midwest city of Detroit, Michigan with the Canadian city of Windsor, Ontario. U.S. Customs officials says every year three million cars, 1.7 million trucks and $80 billion worth of goods pass through this gateway.
The Ambassador Bridge is also privately owned. Since September 11, 2001, the issue of private ownership of this critical juncture has come under fire from critics who want either more government control or public oversight. VOA's Brian Padden recently visited the site and has this report.
After September 11th, long lines and hours of delay were commonplace on the Ambassador Bridge when heightened security restrictions went into place. But today, traffic is not too bad on this bridge that connects the U.S. and Canada. On a normal day, approximately 8,000 cars and 6,000 trucks cross this bridge. 25 percent of all trade between the two countries passes through this juncture. High tech devices such as radiation detectors, license plate readers and high-speed computer databases have cut down the processing time to get through U.S. Customs.
Robert Perez, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director in Detroit, says this border crossing is both secure and efficient. "From a U.S. Customs and Border Protection standpoint, we consider ourselves in the port of Detroit, and specifically here in the Ambassador Bridge, the epitome of our layered enforcement practices," he said.
Still there is ongoing concern about security here because the Ambassador Bridge is privately owned and not accountable to any public authority.
Critics like Marge Byington say this lack of public oversight could lead to gaps in jurisdiction among the various federal, state, local and private agencies on both sides of the border responsible for security. She says a public oversight authority is needed to assure that the security agencies are working together. "I think it's best because you are dealing with two sides of the river, one Canadian, one U.S.," she explains. "It's an international effort and there should be cooperation on both sides between Canada and the U.S. about how it's run and participation in that process."
But Marge Byington represents the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership, which has proposed a new tunnel project to compete with the Ambassador Bridge. The president of the company that owns the bridge told VOA his company does cooperate with all appropriate authorities. The whole situation leaves many wondering whether private entities should be allowed to own critical infrastructure at a time of potential terrorist threat?
Homeland security expert David Heyman says private ownership, even when it comes to bridges, is the American way. He says providing security is the responsibility of both the private and public sectors. "Across ports, bridges, any kind of critical infrastructure, nuclear power plants, you always have this fusion of security from the government, all layers, federal, state and local," says Heyman. "You have the private sector and all of those together, must come together. It is not unusual, but after 9/11 it is the norm today."
Ultimately, Heyman says, it is in the private sector interest to protect the public good."