Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Border Bombshell

No I do not mean that Pamela Anderson is coming to meet with Larry Horwitz in the middle of the Ambassador Bridge. Rather it is another shocking revelation that I found from the Corradino group, the consultant for US DRIC. And if I can know about it so should the political masters of DRIC in both the United States and Canada.

It is becoming more and more clear to me at least that the DRIC project is nothing more than a vindictive action to put the owner of the Ambassador Bridge out of business. There's no way to explain what is going on otherwise. The more I find, the more obvious it becomes.

How many more bombshells do we have to endure? How many more stories do we have to uncover before someone will tell us the truth? Why is it taking so painstakingly slow for us to be told the real facts?

I saw this 10-year old Windsor Star news story on another website and thought that it was important for me to reproduce it below. What troubles me about it is that it makes a mockery of any position taken that it was not always the intention to build another crossing exactly in the spot where the Ambassador Bridge Company wants to do it now.

Truly, is someone out of their mind? Do they have no respect for taxpayers and the amount of money that will be wasted on the DRIC project if it is ever built. No one needed to spend millions and millions and millions of dollars to drill a holes in the ground because there are salt mines and brine wells in the area where the Ambassador Bridge is located as had to be done with the DRIC locations. No experts peer review of the Enhancement Project is necessary as will be done with the DRIC project to ensure that a new bridge will not collapse.

This is the third bombshell from the Corradino group that to me destroys any need for a DRIC bridge and suggests to me that an investigation is needed on both sides of the border to uncover how this process has gotten so far out of control.

1) the head guy at the US DRIC consulting firm has admitted recently that "it is believed (by Joe Corradino) that the market won’t support three bridges." In other words, there is not enough volume of traffic. MDOT's Mohammed Alghurabi, had said as well that only one span will be successful. The private plan is further along in the process. "We've been clear that the intent is not to have two bridges," Alghurabi said. "If the Detroit International Bridge Co. were to succeed (in getting cleared for construction), then the (public project) will not continue."

2) next we read as I Blogged recently that the Ambassador Bridge can handle a huge volume of trucks and that was recognized a decade ago:
  • "Other positive effects of the project are increased safety through better access to the Bridge to handle almost twice as much traffic in the next 20 years as is present today; improved air quality, as Bridge traffic is not interrupted by stop lights."

The article was written in 1997... [by Corradino and MDOT's Zeigler]. The volume in 1997 was 2.7 million trucks. Doing the math, the Ambassador Gateway project was designed to handle 5.4 million trucks. And that is before all the significant changes with respect to Customs that have been taken and the new booths that have been added.

There seems to be little recognition in any of the Government materials that the Ambassador Bridge is operating at about half capacity and that the measures that they have taken to increase the capacity of the bridge are working.

As I have said before, the Bridge people are their own worst enemy. If they had not been so successful in operating their bridge, it would not have given the Governments the opportunity to play games with them for so long.

3) Now the coup de grace. This article says it all. Read it for yourself and see why I'm so disgusted. The new bridge was to have gone exactly where it is being proposed to go now in the Enhancement Project i.e. right beside the existing bridge. Everything was designed to accommodate the new bridge.

Please tell me why we have spent so many millions of dollars and wasted so much time with DRIC probably proposing to duplicate everything about a mile away at a cost of multi-billions of dollars with the disruption of hundreds of businesses and residents. I'm sorry. I just do not understand it.

  • Bridge firm eyes birth of a twin:
Preliminary groundwork is being laid for a second span alongside the Ambassador Bridge;

Douglas Williamson, Star Business Editor. The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ont.: Mar 29, 1997.

It's been the stuff of urban myth in Windsor and Detroit for years.

Now, the prospect of a second bridge spanning the murky Detroit River has taken on the air of reality.

There are developments on two fronts:

- Ambassador Bridge owners and Michigan state and local governments are officially planning preliminary groundwork for a span alongside the current structure, tied initially to freeway renovations in Detroit.

- A rival Windsor group is quietly but vigorously working on its own bridge proposal, according to sources who do not want to be identified. ``There is a serious interest out there for a second bridge,'' said a Windsor official. ``Obviously there's a competitive situation lining up.'' The group has engaged the services of a city surveying firm which also refuses to comment.

At various times in the last two decades, rumors have had a new bridge coming to Amherstburg or Windsor. Reports surfaced again in the early 1990s, when cross-border shopping was the rage.

But no one has seen any evidence of groundwork such as land assembly, said Doug Lawson, chairman of the Windsor-Essex County Development Commission, adding that the commission has received no information on a bridge proposal.

Company cautious

For its part, the Ambassador Bridge company is playing it cautious.

``We've always said that when traffic warrants it, we will consider building a second span,'' said Remo Mancini, president of the Canadian Transit Company, one of two firms owned by the U.S. family that owns the bridge. He said it could be 15 years before the need for a new bridge becomes acute.

``You don't want to wait until you have traffic jams before you start planning for the future,'' the former Liberal Essex South MPP added.

As part of a $100-million US overhaul of the tangled entrance to the Detroit road and connecting freeway system, a larger new ramp/deck will permit the later addition of a twin to the Ambassador Bridge.

Second ramp

During planning sessions, bridge owners asked that the new deck accommodate a ramp that can veer west toward a second bridge, said consultant Pat Holland of The Corradino Group of Louisville, Ky., which is overseeing the urgently needed freeway-bridge entrance renovations for a consortium of state and local governments and the bridge company.

``I think that says that it's been thought about at a relatively high level,'' Holland told The Star. ``We were instructed and we've (designed) an approach, that will handle one bridge or two bridges.

``They're the ones who initiated that discussion, but it was obvious to everyone that if we're going to build something for the next 30 or 40 years, that you'd have to have it so it can accommodate a second bridge if one were built.

``The bridge company did in fact say that they would prefer it if they had that option open. It can easily accomodate another bridge just downriver which is west of the present bridge. We can accommodate it within 150 or 200 yards probably,'' Holland said.

``We're building an access ramp up to the bridge and part of our directive has been to build that ramp such that it could serve another bridge if another bridge was built, and that is part of our charge and we're designing it in that fashion.

``So based on what we've done, we could accommodate a second bridge.

``The place where you build it, is land that they own,'' he said, referring to bridge company-owned property on both sides of the river. ``It's my belief that the existing bridge would become one-way toward the U.S. and the new bridge become one-way toward Canada. That means that the traffic now going over this (planned) deck on to the present bridge would divert on to a new bridge.''

The U.S. federal government will pay 80 per cent of the cost of the freeway-bridge entrance renovations, and the Ambassador Bridge company the remaining 20 per cent, Holland said. Interim work should begin later this year but no date has been set for completion of the entire job, necessary to improve what is acknowledged to be one of the worst international freeway access points in North America.

``We've building a new access to the Ambasador Bridge from the interstate systems. There are three interstates plus a lot of local streets that all try to get on the Ambassador Bridge at the same point, which makes it look like a bowl of spaghetti,'' Holland said. The improvements, including the new deck, will allow vastly improved car and truck traffic flow from the bridge to local Detroit streets and connecting freeways.

Regarding the new deck, preliminary design and planning is done, actual design will begin this summer, and construction could start in a year and half, Holland said.

In the freeway-bridge entrance redesign, the new deck is to be built over existing businesses and roads, Holland said.