Turning The Garden Of Eden Into Hell On Earth
Thanksgiving came a day late for the Ambassador Bridge people but they have to be ecstatic nevertheless. In a presentation that took about 90 minutes, Sam Schwartz did more to undercut the City of Windsor's position and that of DRIC as well than any expert that the Bridge Company could have hired.
Just think of what he did. He legitimized the Huron Church/Talbot Road corridor between Highway 401 and the Ambassador Bridge. That had always been the border route since the bridge had been built but effectively people needed to be reminded of that.
Sam legitimized the approach taken by the Bridge Company over five years ago when they engineered the City's WALTS solution. The Bridge Co. showed that there was a way to build a corridor for international traffic and yet at the same time connect communities. Sam did the same thing although his budget number was five times more than that of the Bridge Company engineers who designed a corridor for a maximum cost of $300M, the BIF amount.
However the big thing that Sam did was that he absolutely destroyed the need for a new DRIC bridge (but not be Enhancement Project Bridge since Sam says the existing bridge is an old bridge and needs rehabilitation. There is a need also for an extra lane in each direction for FAST vehicles). He stated clearly and unambiguously:
- "projected tunnel volumes indicate that two lanes in each direction would provide more than adequate capacity beyond 2035."
2035 is the outside limit of the DRIC study. What Sam is saying supports exactly what the Bridge Company has been saying for so long: the DRIC traffic capacity numbers are wrong and that there is little expectation that traffic volumes will reach the point where a new bridge will be necessary in the foreseeable future due to capacity reasons.
Can it be any better than this for the Ambassador Bridge Company!
If that is true, then there is no excuse for the City to be a roadblock again and prevent the road to the border being built right to the foot of the Ambassador Bridge and to have it done now. It borders on gross negligence, if Sam is right, for there to be City opposition to building the Enhancement Project bridge and fixing up the old one.
From a taxpayer perspective, I'm pretty angry. I want my money back. Sam has been working on this border issue since early 2004. If he is the world famous traffic guru that the Mayor said that he is, then why did it take him so long and so many times to come up with this solution? Why do we have to pay for all of his earlier attempts? If he is so smart, why didn't he come up with this solution in early 2005 rather than in late 2007? Remember in his presentation, he took credit for recommending tunnels in residential areas. Where were they almost 3 years ago?
I'm no traffic engineer and not qualified to say whether Sam's ideas are good ones are not. However, I am able to take a position on some of the things that I see that trouble me greatly. And I don't really care if this means that Gord Henderson starts calling me names. Sticks and stones and all of that.
Intuitively, we know that this is a "Megaproject" gone awry. Just do a search in the search box on the top left hand corner of this BLOG on that word, read the BLOGs and see what I mean. How can a project that is underground come in at the same price as a below-grade road? It doesn't make sense.
Of course it does not. Are we being played again? We're not given any details as to how Sam's costs were calculated. We do know, or I think we do, that Sam's costs do not appear to be the cost for the entire road right to the border. He only talked about the road until it hit the Expressway. Does it include for example, the cost of Windsor's equivalent of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto ie the double deck road for trucks. What about the cost from wherever Sam's stop point is to the Bridge. What are those costs?
But here's the beauty. If you look at City advertisement, it makes a big point of showing that Sam's and dollars are 2007 dollars. My understanding is that the DRIC dollars are 2011 dollars. If that is correct, the comparison on dollar numbers alone is not a valid one. And if we look at the experience in Windsor on costs increasing over a several-year period, and the bus terminal is a prime example, Sam's numbers could be out by around 35%!
Cutting harmful effects of pollution of our population is supposedly one of the benefits of Schwartz. Naturally a fully tunneled solution would supposedly be the perfect answer (except for the fact that there is no air scrubbing technology but that's a small point.) However, a full tunnel means ventilation buildings, air stacks and dramatically increased costs. So the easy solution is have a few long tunnels and have a few short panels, throw in some jet fans and everything is okay.
As far as the pollution, sure it's got to be concentrated in a couple of areas but Sam tells us that our friends, the trees, will gobble up all of his pollution.
Chris Schnurr in his BLOG has done a bit of research and here's what he found:
- "...we need to remove over 1300 pounds of particulate matter.To do this with trees, we would need over 15,000 acres of tree cover - about 62 square kilometers.
Clearly, a few trees planted at the tunnel portals will not accomplish this.
And, a silly question - what about the months from November to April? There are no leaves on trees to absorb pollution."
Life has a strange way of bringing us back to reality. All this talk of green space, Central Park, rollerblading, ponds and becoming the world destination for people to come here to see roads hid the fact from us that Sam's presentation was a very superficial one.
It is a sales presentation not traffic engineering. It was created to be a political statement that the Mayor could use for the next few months so that he would not have to do anything. And if by chance someone was foolish enough to take seriously what Sam has said, it would mean more environmental assessments since this was a new option. A detailed analysis of this option could take us a year or two. More stalling, more delay, no thousands of newly created jobs, and economic disaster for Windsor, for our region, and for Canada. Where was Eddie 3 years ago with this solution?
Where in the presentation did you see anything about safety? Did Sam discuss what would happen if something went wrong inside the tunnel and what the consequences would be? He sure did when he talked about the "cattle chute" that the DRTP tunnel would be. Did he tell us what would happen if there was an accident within his long tunnels?
We'll Sam doesn't have to do so. We have an example right now in California.
- "Two dead in fiery California truck crash
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — At least two people are confirmed dead after a 15-truck crash on a California highway near Los Angeles.
The accident caused a spectacular blaze in a tunnel on Interstate 5, about 50 kilometres north of downtown L.A.
Earlier on Saturday, highway officials said that 10 people were injured and one person was missing. It isn't clear whether one of those who may have died in the fiery crash was the missing motorist.
The blaze began late Friday night, just before 11 p.m., when two trucks collided in the tunnel which stretches for more than two kilometres. The accident caused a chain reaction that left wreckage behind it for nearly a kilometer...
Fire Insp. Jason Hurd told The Associated Press that "Flames were leaping out of both sides of the tunnel 60 and 70 feet (21 metres) high.''
Hurd said that twenty people, including 10 of the injured, were able to escape the flames on foot, but five trucks were still stuck inside the tunnel...
Hurd added that one truck driver was still missing. He also told AP that cars sometimes use the tunnel and that he fears more people may be trapped inside...
But there are concerns that the intense heat may have compromised the structural integrity of the tunnel. Already there are reports that concrete has cracked and some parts of the tunnel have melted."
If you want to see a video of this click this link http://news.sympatico.msn.ctv.ca/TopStories/ContentPosting.aspx?feedname=CTV-TOPSTORIES_V2&showbyline=True&newsitemid=CTVNews%2f20071013%2ffreeway_pileup_071013
If you want to see the effects on the roadway, click here
Check out this story on Tunnel safety
Not only could there be structural damage to the tunnel, but there could be damage to the Interstate Expressway above the tunnel and the fear is that it could close down the major road between Mexico and Canada for weeks.
Oh it's merely another trivial detail like cutting the grass and paying for it on our new 300 acres of parkland. The reality is that our so-called Garden of Eden could turn into a blazing Hell if there was an accident in some of Sam's longer tunnels. But that wasn't discussed because it could take away from what it is that the Mayor wanted to achieve.
What we have in Windsor today is not the desire to do anything. The Schwartz proposal is not meant as a design that the City can work with the DRIC but rather something that Eddie can use to "counter" DRIC as he said. It is one-upsmanship.
We know that Eddie's claim that his solution is non-negotiable is not true and so does everybody else. It is a starting point, again, for the umpteenth time. For what, who knows.
Clearly Eddie is one of those negotiators who never puts forward a reasonable position. He always puts forward his pie in the sky and sees what the other side can take away. Of course such negotiating tactics are silly time wasters. But since we've wasted five years already, what's another couple of years.
It's all a big game and Windsorites are the big losers. Again