Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Poor Leah Hansen, do you think she will ever get called back now to host a program on CKLW when the regular host is away? She probably thought she was doing the right thing. After all the phone lines were jammed and a lot of people wanted to go on the air. Her job was to get ratings for the station after all and not to please certain people. I guess that she did not understand that sometimes one must be politically correct in order to survive in this City.
He was only supposed to be on the air as far as I know for one hour but instead, Dan Stamper, President of the Ambassador Bridge Company, spent three hours being questioned by citizens on that Company's Enhancement Project and other matters.
I thought about using the word "interrogated" but that would have been the wrong word and given the wrong flavor about the tone of the conversation. That would have suggested opposition and strong debate. It was not like that at all. Rather there was respectful discussion on both sides with the lots of questions being answered and lots of disinformation being eliminated.
What was very interesting to me was that even professional truck drivers gave credit to the Bridge Company for the way in which they operated their crossing in comparison with public authorities at other ones. Not a bad endorsement and a kick in the you know where to Brian Masse's concept!
As for Eddie, during the show I heard three commercials in which he was pitching his Greenlink solution. Presumably they were paid for. Three minutes for him, 180 minutes for Stamper and at no cost to the Ambassador Bridge Company. Do you think that Eddie will demand a refund?
Stamper took his shots at City Hall and probably had fun doing so. He told callers to speak to their Ward 2 Councillors about why residents could not demolish a garage to build a new one or why his Company could not demolish homes on Indian Road to beautify the area with green space rather than have homes left boarded up as eyesores. You could hear the frustration and the anger when he said that he was tired of the City using him as excuse for not allowing residents to improve Sandwich.
By the end of the show, it was pretty clear that Eddie, Sam and Parsons Brinckerhoff along with their solicitor-client privileged lawyer David had outsmarted themselves on the border road. Oh, they were all so brilliant in what they did to try to embarrass DRIC, their implacable foe, that they forgot about their other so-called enemy. Stamper picked up on the absurdity of their position and how it fell right into his lap.
It was quite a revelation to listen to that happen. Stamper congratulated Eddie for finally legitimizing what the Bridge Company had proposed five years ago with respect to Huron Church Road. Respecting the new Eddie/Sam mantra: protect, connect and quality of life, the Bridge Company had shown how that road could be used for traffic and at the same time connect communities. Of course, since it was proposed by the Bridge Company, it was automatically opposed by the City at that time.
Naturally no one chose to remind citizens that the corridor was the one that the City's own WALTS study had picked as a solution and which is, I assume, City policy even today. It took DRIC and the Schwartz reports to prove the Bridge Company was right after all.
Now Eddie can get some comfort from the fact that Stamper seemed to have approved of Greenlink. But he really didn't. The Bridge Company really doesn't care whether the road is at grade, below grade, bore tunneled or cut and covered. And why should they? As long as it leads to the Ambassador Bridge, the Company seems to have no preferred option.
Stamper's position was simple and unassailable. Effectively, DRIC and Schwartz were in agreement, he said, that there should be a partially tunneled road. Get going and finish it to the Ambassador Bridge. Let him complete his Enhancement Project since thousands of jobs can be created at a time when Windsor needs them. That's pretty simple even for the Mayor and City Hall to understand don't you think.
From Highway 401 to E C Row, the brilliant city experts demonstrated the newest, latest and best road technology that not only developed a workable truck road but also developed Parks and recreation areas that connected communities and resulted in environmental purity for our City. And all of that at the same cost as those nasty DRIC people who wanted to impose a cheap solution on our City. It truly was remarkable listening to all of this at Council.
Stamper however put the boots to Eddie in a very quiet and respectful fashion when he asked the question why the City decided to stop at Huron Church and E C Row. Why didn't the City just continue on was the question that need answering. There was no need to stop if they were so brilliant south of E C Row. They could have been just as brilliant northwards as you roll right up to the Bridge entrance. And that's how they outsmarted themselves.
There is no justification for them stopping. They could have built a ring road or they could have gone right straight up Huron Church Road.
Here is how the City's WALTS study put it with the two alternatives given. It also puts the lie to the fact that no one knew what the Bridge Company was going to do at the border. It should not be therefore be a big surprise to anyone that the Bridge Company is going to build their Enhancement Project. It was known in 1999 and earlier. That is why the shenanigans with respect to Indian Road and Heritage are so childish and are easily seen through for what they really are:
- WALTS REPORT---"Option 2 Expand Existing Bridge Capacity
In this option, widening or twinning the four lane Ambassador Bridge to 6 or 8 lanes would be associated with operational enhancements at or associated with the Bridge Plaza (customs, inspection, tolls, etc). The Canadian Transit Company has proposed that this twinning would link with the Plaza via Indian Road, where the Company has acquired almost all property along the east side.
WALTS forecasting data and analysis shows that this option would also require further, concurrent improvements on the connecting link to Highway 401. This could be accomplished in at least two ways. The first would be to improve Huron Church Road capacity at least from the Bridge to EC Row Expressway. At this point, improved access could be provided to Highway 401 either via the existing Huron Church Road/Highway 3 connecting link, or via a new easterly link from the EC Row Expressway south to Highway 401 via an improved route such as Lauzon Parkway/County Road 17 and the 10th Concession Road
A second connecting link option would be from the Bridge Plaza to Ojibway Parkway or EC Row Expressway via a route parallel to College Avenue and the ETR Railway line. Both of these, and other connecting link options warrant further study. Whichever solution is followed, significant roadway capacity and operational improvements would be required along the chosen route, depending on further route selection and functional planning.
Finally, in considering the Bridge twinning proposal, traffic forecasting and analyses conducted by WALTS and MTO both show a significant need for capacity improvements on Huron Church Road between the Bridge and Expressway to accommodate a doubling or tripling of bridge traffic. In this case, providing up to 8 lanes on portions of the Road may be required, with associated major land acquisition needs along one or both sides of Huron Church Road to accommodate the widened right-of-way."
Now to be direct about it, the Ambassador Bridge's proposed road solution from my recollection is not quite as good as the one that Sam did. But do remember they provided an engineering solution within the context of the BIF money which was only $300 million (that program has now expired thanks to political inaction) rather than the $1.5 billion that Sam had to play with. I assume that the Bridge Company's engineers could have done a bit better job with five times the amount of money at their disposal.
I hope that Eddie listened to what Dan Stamper had to say. There was no doubt that Stamper held out the olive branch to Eddie by saying that he would work with the City to accomplish the building of the road for traffic and for connecting communities. However, he also made it clear that if Eddie did not do so, there would be consequences.
I cannot think of any reason why, after Sam's brilliant report, a road to the Ambassador Bridge cannot be built using one of the solutions suggested in the WALTS report. There is no justification for stopping now is there?
But what if, for some crazy reason, Eddie decides to do so? Stamper provided the reason why Eddie would be in very big trouble if he did. You see, Eddie is not only the Mayor of Windsor but he is also Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission or maybe now President or CEO of the new corporation set up. In other words, he is the Ambassador Bridge Company's major competitor in Windsor for border crossing traffic!
As I have said before the Mayor is in a very awkward position, wearing two hats. He must act in the City's best interests as Mayor but he also has to act in the Tunnel's best interests as Chair. And that is how the problem has arisen.
I would like Eddie to explain now how we can build a road to EC Row that is so brilliant but not to the Ambassador Bridge. Did Sam's brain stop at a certain spot on Huron Church? How can Eddie say, if he does not allow the building of the road immediately to the Bridge, that he is not preventing the Bridge Company from competing fairly with the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel? He cannot! He is preventing them from improving their operations while at the same time, along with $30 million of Municipal, Federal and Provincial government monies, he is proposing to improve the Tunnel's operations so they can take traffic away from the Bridge.
Nothing like being placed between a rock and a hard place.
As I have said before, it is not that the Ambassador Bridge people are that smart, it is that their opponents are that dumb. They keep shooting themselves in the foot.
It made for some very interesting listening to the three hours on CKLW. It was shocking to me that there were so few negative comments about the Bridge Company. In fact, there weren't any. One woman even said "God Bless" to Dan as she slammed her Ward 2 Councillors.
It was unbelievable. Three hours of a public lovefest on the radio with the Ambassador Bridge would have been unheard of even a few months ago. Have Windsorites finally figured out that they have been told a bunch of stories over the last five years and longer by people who should have known better? Have they finally figured out that the Bridge Company, the best border operator in North America, really knows what they are doing. They have been consistent in what they have said unlike some others who keep changing to meet whatever the circumstances at the time require.
We should be grateful, to be direct, to Eddie, Sam, PB and David. They have given us the solution... it is a road suggested five years ago by the Ambassador Bridge Company that leads directly to their Enhancement Project!
But for the Plaza embellishment by the DRIC people who increased the size of the Plaza from 20 to 100-120 acres, the Ambassador Bridge would be the number one choice for the crossing. Now that we know the truth and that the Americans have said that the Ambassador Bridge is their preferred place where the new bridge should go, who in their right mind would spend hundreds of millions of dollars locating a bridge in an area of brine wells and salt mines and take the liability risk of a collapse. Just as in Sarnia, the experts looked up river and downriver but in the end decided to build the new bridge at the exact spot where the old bridge was located. It made the most sense there and makes the most sense here.
We know that Michigan can't afford a new bridge, Ontario can't, the US Federal Government is still fighting a war while ours is gearing up for an election. Harper has better places to put their billions of infrastructure money than in Windsor right now since Windsorites persist in voting in NDP members.
We still will have all the fun and games. Two months of Eddie the pitchman, two months of an ad campaign blitz, two months of Sandra and Dwight pretending that they have an interest in the new border crossing and perhaps a federal campaign. There will undoubtedly be some new bombshells to come out but in the end we all know now what the outcome will be.