Ferries Cross The River
For those of you who are too young to remember who they are, one of their big hits was "Ferry Cross The Mersey." Imagine what they could do with songs about the Detroit/Windsor ferry and the proposed ferry service to Detroit.
Aren't you tired of Gregg Ward Ferry stories? I sure am. At the least, it was not about him moaning about his lawsuit with the Feds again. I had read enough about that a long time ago.
One good point: he again answers the question about security and redundancy issues at the Ambassador Bridge:
- "This is an important safety and security project for the border,” said Ward, noting the alternative his truck ferry provides in the event of a shutdown of the Ambassador Bridge."
How long has this issue been going on re that piece of land for the ferry? The project has dragged on for ages. Just like the DRIC project itself. And some want the Governments involved in border crossings! Ridiculous!
It's strange, no one seems to talk much about the privately owned cross-border service provided by the Ferry. Oh I know it is NOT a huge operation like the Ambassador Bridge but it is interesting to note how much the Governments are prepared to help out this private border operator and then throw roadblocks in front of another.
Can you say double standard?
Why the Ferry project is even needed if a new DRIC Bridge is built surprises me because it would take most of Ward's business away. Another sign that the DRIC bridge is delayed indefinitely perhaps?
However, this is NOT why the story is of interest. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes.
Why are Dwight and Sandra talking about a super-duper bridge in Windsor when it is not within their area of authority? Why did the Star just do an Editorial? Simple...sucker the Feds. Get them to commit huge sums to Windsor so that when the DRIC road finally has to be built, and everyone knows that have-not Ontario cannot afford to finance it, then the Feds will have to kick in more cash. My sources tell me that Ontario has been trying to get them to pay 70% of the cost for years rather than the 50%.
That is why the Feds are stalling over the payment of a few extra bucks at the Truck ferry. Heck, they overpaid at Brighton Beach by 7 times so why not for the Truck ferry.
- "The Canadian government has committed $2.9 million toward improvements to the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry based on the original estimates determined by the provincial government, said Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada.
“The issue was there was significant difference,” Butler said. “The government of Canada’s contribution is capped at the approved value — which in this case was $2.9 million based on the original estimate.”
The ferry estimate was just as poor an estimate it seems now as will be the cost of the DRIC road prepared by the Province for which the Feds have to contribute 50% of the agreed costs. The Feds have to decide if they will pay more because the actual cost down the road is significantly higher than the billion dollar plus estimate
Paying more for the ferry may stick them with a precedent when the DRIC road actual cost comes in.
And now our equivalent of the Staten Island ferry. Hardly a good time to be thinking about this when
- "Cross-border travel slows in June, report shows."
Fogetting the practical issues like Customs clearance costs and once one gets to the other side, how does one then get to one's final destination if you are one of the 5,000 commuters or a day tripper especially when Detroit transit service may be cut?
Do you really think that the City of Windsor can allow this to go forward? It cannot. The reason is simple----it could bankrupt the City-owned Tunnel.
If other empoyers did the following for commuters, then why drive one's car through the Tunnel:
- "some Michigan hospitals have already offered to shuttle Windsor commuters to and from a river ferry."
Can you imagine what would have happened to Windsor if Eddie's $75M Tunnel deal had gone forward since one of the reasons for doing it according to the Mayor was to protect the 5,000 commuters. Another reason why the Tunnel vision of the Mayor was a complete bust.
What then is the purpose for the Ferry story? This story has been around for a long time. Back in November I saw this:
- "In time, the $15.25 million riverfront investment ["Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority (DWCPA) Public Dock & Terminal building will soon be a fixture on Detroit's East Riverfront. Once completed, the 21,000-square-foot facility will become the new headquarters of the DWCPA, as well as the premier Detroit River site where visiting ships of all types dock"] will also become the Detroit nexus of cross-river ferry service, if Detroit and Windsor port officials have their way. Early stages of talks are underway with an established East Coast ferry operator who is anxious to add Detroit-Windsor to its portfolio of cities served.
Just over a year ago, we read in the Star:
- "Mayor Eddie Francis will today unveil an ambitious water and boardwalk concept for the Western Super Anchor properties he believes can finally help transform the downtown dead zone...
"Now that the casino (expansion) is open people have been saying 'What can we do to spur people and attract them to the city?'" Francis said.
"This provides a sense of community, identity and mixed use we have desired for the Western Super Anchor. It all translates into economic benefits. The time for this is right.
"This project is not going to be up and running tomorrow, but it's a plan for the future. We get asked to make a decision and that's what we are doing..."
There are also early ongoing port authority talks about launching a new Windsor-Detroit ferry taxi service which also could be tied to the proposal, the mayor said."
A Star story also at the time said
- "Thousands of Windsor workers who commute daily to Detroit may soon be able to leave their gas guzzlers at home and take the ferry instead.
The Windsor Port Authority is holding preliminary discussions with the largest commuter ferry operator in the United States, which is seeking to begin a commuter service across the Detroit River.
WPA chairman Charlie Pingle said the proposed inland marina for Windsor's downtown west side would make a perfect terminus for such a service."
Of course you remember that the Windsor Port Authority was one of the contributors to the cost of the Canal feasibility study.
By the way the Port Authority announced this new appointment:
- "The Windsor Port Authority has two new members on its board of directors.
On Thursday, federal Transport Minister John Baird announced the appointments of...George Sandala...
Sandala is described as a member of the City of Windsor's audit committee and vice-chair of the Windsor Utility Commission."
Have you noticed all of a sudden all of these canal stories in the Star. Just the other day we had one about an Aquarium and now about a ferry service. If one did not know any better, one might think that someone is trying to justify a canal.
Oh my gosh....do you think that the Mayor is NOT following his own advice. Could this be the start of his next mayoral campaign with the canal his main platform (or pier) plank. That would force us to move forward and to ignore all of his past failures. After all, as the Star quoted him today:
- "Asked for a Windsor example, he pointed to the proposed canal project in the city's core and the programming that would accompany it. "Something as simple as a children's amusement park, like they have in London -- Storybook Gardens."
A research aquarium, which is still only in preliminary discussion stages, would also figure into Francis's vision.
Francis said such attractions would generate as much business from people in the region as they would from U.S. visitors.
"It will never make up completely what we're losing in tourism traffic, but it would at least mitigate that loss," he predicted.
Development of such things remains years away, but Francis said years away is the way people should be thinking...
But five years ago, that decision was made, and that helps us mitigate against the challenges we're facing now.
"We have to have the same vision, the same foresight for the next five years, and five years after that.
"We've got to stop looking at reasons why people aren't coming, and start focusing on reasons why we want people to come."
DUH...forget how I have failed as Mayor to get tourists coming here and buy into my next future failure after I am elected!
PS. Oooops, I should have mentioned the other Port Authority appointment: Rocco Lucente, president of R. Lucente Engineering, Inc
He has a canal connection:
- "The Project Team was lead by Landmark Engineers Inc., who drew assistance from four multi-disciplinary local engineering and consulting firms including:
• R. Lucente Engineering Inc.
He must know Mr. Sandala well since he is also a WUC Commissioner