Spending The Green Greenly
According to the Star, and even accepting that their numbers are inflated, 1500 people turned out at the Ward 1 meeting to take a walk around the Massey gymnasium to read about Greenlink. CKLW said it was "hundreds." How many actually signed up on the City sheets should be disclosed so we would get a better feel for the real number. No matter what, it should be viewed as a big success that so many people came out.
I have to admit that I was surprised at the number of people who turned out. Given the abysmal showing of Windsorites who attended the Council meeting to hear Sam speak, I thought that the numbers would be low. It just goes to prove how small a town Windsor really is. Things can change overnight here and that is a good thing about this City in my opinion. Three full-page ads in the Windsor Star, blanketing of ads on the radio and Windsor Star and Gord Henderson stories about our new Garden of Eden can produce wonders.
But if you think Eddie is happy, he's not. This two-month ad blitz really has nothing to do with the citizens of Windsor. It has really has everything to do with impacting the Senior Levels and in particular the Federal Government. The assumption has to be that there will be a Federal election shortly. It is pretty clear that there is some kind of a deal between Eddie and the Province and this ad campaign has to do more with Federal/Provincial relations than it does with the Windsor border.
Look what has happened to Eddie's best laid plans. First, we have the fire catastrophe in the Los Angeles tunnel just the other day. Don't tell me that anyone will be able to approve the length of tunnels in Sam's plan without a major research project being undertaken on fire safety.
Oh I know what Parsons Brinckerhoff have done in the Detroit airport tunnel. I have read their research on it and the use of jet fans. Unfortunately, their modelling only involved one truck and not 28 plus a car. The Federal Government would be absolutely irresponsible to follow the Schwartz proposal since one jack-knifed tractor-trailer could destroy the main economic route between Canada and the United States for months.
In my opinion we are looking at a major research study both with respect to tunneling and fires and with respect to redundant roads that is going to require that the consultants spend at least a year or two redesigning everything that they have done so far. Good for their pocketbooks, not so good for ours.
Secondly, and perhaps fatally to Schwartz, is the EnviroTruck. It really troubles me that a traffic guru would design his road system and barely acknowledge that diesel trucks and diesel fuel have changed for the better. This concept has been around for a long time. It just did not happen overnight. The DRIC people took it into account. Did Sam? If he had, he would not have talked about trees eating pollution, especially those that only have their leaves for six months.
So why didn't Sam talk about the new diesel truck and diesel fuel in much more detail. If he had, his plan would have been shot down.
On the one hand, one can say that there are no longer any negatives respecting pollution so we don't even need trees eating pollution at the end of Sam's tunnels. On the other hand, one might be silly and ask what's the purpose of spending extra billions on a tunnelled or even partially tunnelled solution when there no longer is a problem respecting pollution.
The story of the EnviroTruck is in the Star today.
- "In the green lane
EnviroTrucks feature smog-free engines
Tory MP Brian Jean admits exhaust from the new so-called EnviroTrucks can be cleaner than the air some Canadians breathe, but Monday he sped right past a request for a new federal incentive program to encourage trucking companies to put more of these tractor-trailers on the road.
Emissions from the exhaust stacks on the trucks is greatly reduced and even passed a white handkerchief test.
"This is not a trick -- this is the real thing," Jean, parliamentary secretary to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, said after examining the still-clean white handkerchief that had been held over an exhaust stack for a minute. It would have been black if held over a regular truck's exhaust stack.
"The quality of life of Canadians, of North Americans will get better as a result of this initiative," Jean said...
The alliance is looking for a federal incentive program to help trucking companies defray the $8,000 extra cost of buying EnviroTrucks, said David Bradley, the alliance chief executive officer."
I'm sure that you saw the quotation that I emphasized about quality of life. Why do we need a tunnel now to control pollution when there is not going to be any truck pollution within the decade, or it will be greatly reduced at a minimum. Who needs Greenlink? Our quality of life will be better with or without Sam's proposal.
So the real issue is do we want to have Central Park in Windsor. Do we really need the extra parkland when we can't look after what we have now properly? And how are we going to pay for it when we have already cut the Parks Department budget? What that means is the only issue we have left is how to "connect" communities whatever that means. Eddie's mantra of "protecting" and "quality of life" have disappeared as issues.
We know the Bridge Co. showed that connecting can be done for $300 million because they did so in their engineering of the WALTS Road years ago. We also know that DRIC said it can be done for $1.5 billion because they did it in their recent plans. We also know that Sam's numbers are incomplete, are 2007 numbers and we have no idea what the final number will be once a complete road to the bridge is completed. We know now that his plans can be downsized because his issues are no longer relevant.
In passing, don't you find it odd that so much attention is being spent on the "rich and powerful" south part of Windsor. Why Councillor Brister was so concerned about the Southwood Lakes area. (Hmmmm perhaps he expects a lot of campaign contributions from that area when he decides to run for mayor). I've not heard a word about Ward 2 and Sandwich. Where are their tunnels and their quality of life? No one's going to be too concerned about them. No one has been concerned up to now anyway except as a means to block the Ambassador Bridge Company from building their Enhancement Project.
So I did some serious thinking. We need a solution that works from a practical point of view and from a financial point of view.
I don't care what anybody says, the Federal Government is not going to build the Schwartz Road in Windsor and set a precedent that they will have to follow across Canada. If Toronto and Ottawa have expressways including 20 lanes on Highway 401 in Toronto, then Windsor is going to get one too. Right or wrong, the Garden of Eden is just not going to be built in an area that elects 2 NDP Members of Parliament. Any kind of announcement of a project down here that would create jobs would get Jeff Watson re-elected so that they do not have to worry about that. Check out the Thrown Speech tonight.
Here is my solution.
Build the WALTS/Ambassador Bridge/City/DRIC/Schwartz road. Use the roadway model that both the Ambassador Bridge and DRIC have used and even Sam has adopted finally. That road would go right to the Ambassador Bridge since we don't need to spend money building a new bridge that may have salt mine and brine well risks. Are we really that stupid to even consider that? Throw in a bit of grass to make Eddie look like a hero politically with the locals.
Now if one considers, using 2011 dollars and not 2007 dollars, that the cost of the DRIC Road is about $1.5 billion and that a fully tunneled road is about $4 billion, then we would have $2.5 billion left to play with. What I would suggest is dividing that $2.5 billion by $8,000, the extra cost to buy EnviroTrucks. That means that 312,500 trucks could have anti-pollution add-ons that would impact positively pollution all over North America and not just a tiny patch in the Windsor area.
Now that is spending our taxpayers dollars in a wise and green manner and probably even helps out the Conservatives with respect to Kyoto. Our border is finished in a responsible and safe manner and we have helped out our environment. Gee, I might even win a Nobel prize for this idea too.
PS. I was listening to the Lynn Martin show on CKLW this morning. Her discussion of tunneling after the meeting last night lasted only about half an hour! And not everyone was in favor of tunnels after the Los Angeles fire. It really isn't a good day for Eddie after all is it. Three hours for Dan Stamper and 30 minutes for Sam's Greenlink. Who really has Windsorites' support!