Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Upgrading E C Row: Blame It On Lufthansa

Of course you now that more is involved than appears on the surface. Isn't that the way things are done in Windsor? To go from Point "A" to Point "B" in Windsor, we have to go through all of the other letters in the alphabet.

Oh my goodness, the shame of it all, How will it ever be explained? All these years opposed and now having to back off.

You see dear reader, we saw the new Manning Road plans, the uppgraded 10 lane E C Row for the DRIC Bridge west of Huron Church. The only thing missing was the centre portion of the Expressway right through Windsor. Did you really think it was going to remain 4-lanes and become a choke-point in this magnificent new transportation system? Do not be so foolish!

Like it or not, Eddie Francis is going to have to suck it in and reverse himself.

  • "The City of Windsor has consistently been on the record as being vehemently opposed to any expansion of E.C. Row that would lead to international trucks being introduced to the expressway," he said.

    "We believe E.C. Row is at capacity for local and regional traffic."

Trucks, loads of international ones, are coming to the Expressway and soon. The road will have to be upgraded and we will applaud Eddie for doing so too. Heck, it is going to be portrayed as a key part of our new economic development future that will bring us great prosperity so who can object?

Oh it will be very hard for Eddie to change his position. Fortunately, it will NOT be his fault. There will be others who will take the blame. He of course will take the credit.

Let me give the obvious examples, not forgetting that the Feds and Province always wanted a Lauzon/E C Row connection as in the Nine Point Plan:

  • "Province will assume full responsibility for E.C. Row Expressway between Lauzon Parkway and Ojibway Parkway, and will widen it by one lane in each direction.

    Province will assume full responsibility for Lauzon Parkway south of E.C. Row Expressway and will extend/upgrade the highway from Highway 401 to E.C. Row."

Heck, blame Gary McNamara for starters. Of course he is doing what Sam Schwartz said and in the order Sam said. As I Blogged before, that history has been revised:

  • "Francis raps Manning work; Four-lane link to 401 would flood E.C. Row with trucks, mayor says

    Mayor Eddie Francis says he fears a plan to turn Manning Road into a four-lane connection between Highway 401 and E.C. Row will mean a dramatic increase in the number of international trucks using the expressway.

    But Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara dismissed Friday "all the negative outcry" over the planned county road expansion and said not wanting trucks on E.C. Row is "a little bit over the top..."

    Early designs also include expanding a Tecumseh stretch of the expressway -- called County Road 22 -- between Manning and Banwell roads into six lanes, narrowing to four close to the Windsor border.

    Should improvements to Manning Road be completed before fixing the Talbot Road-Huron Church Road corridor, Francis fears it will lead to trucks getting off Highway 401 and heading to the expressway for easier access to the border."

DRIC is an easy target to blame too. Again, look at the mess that Dougall is in with one lane closed in each direction. Walker was a disaster. How about Howard? Imagine what will happen to traffic on Huron Church with thousands of international trucks and cars bound for the US clogging up that street. Those vehicles will use City streets for years to get around the huge backups. What a mess.

Of course, back in 2005, we read this:

  • "E.C. Row Expressway will never be used as an international truck route, MPP Sandra Pupatello (L--Windsor West) said Friday.

    "Both Dwight (Duncan) and I have said E.C. Row will not be used for trucks -- period," Pupatello said. "I can't be more emphatic than that."

    Transport Canada bureaucrats and their hired consultant complained Friday their recommendations in a report released Thursday to add new lanes to the expressway and improve Huron Church Road leading to the bridge are being misunderstood.

    Federal officials want to widen E.C. Row strictly for the benefit of local traffic and not for international truck use, they said.

    "We want to emphasize we are not advocating putting trucks on E.C. Row," said Sean O'Dell, federal executive director for the Windsor Gateway Project. "We think the city could benefit from improving the conditions on E.C. Row. There are no ulterior motives."

    Transport Canada's preferred short-term option for 10,000 trucks rolling through Windsor each day is for them to remain in the Talbot Road-Huron Church Road corridor, O'Dell said, despite the federal call for two additional lanes on E.C. Row and new Lauzon Parkway and Manning Road connections to Highway 401.

    Mayor Eddie Francis has blasted the report as the latest federal attempt to shove trucks through the heart of the city on the expressway.

    "This is the same thing they said in 2003," Francis said. "They continue to say trucks won't go there, but once you connect 401 with Lauzon Parkway and Manning Road, trucks will take the path of least resistance.

    "They can wrap this up any way they want, but that's something everyone in this community can clearly see."

I know that Dave Wake said this:

  • "DRIC has also determined that during any construction it can maintain border traffic in the Talbot-Huron Church corridor and no other roads, such as E.C. Row Expressway, will be required for use as a detour, Wake said."

Oh that's probably like 2013 for the completion of the DRIC Bridge, a target not a promise. However, if E C Row becomes a mere temporary detour while the DRIC road is being built, who can object?

And you know how "temporary" Government programs become permanent like the income tax especially after so much money will have been spent to upgrade the Expressway.

Blame the Senior Levels. They will get cold feet on building the DRIC road as planned when the real construction cost numbers come in as I set out a few days ago. Heck if Bridge completion is at least 2 years away, who needs a DRIC road now, especially with litigation. Who is going to finance and build a road to nowhere?

The Province cannot do it alone. If the Feds get upset over a measly $2m for the Ferry project, imagine when the real cost comes in at a billion or two higher!

But in the end, Eddie will have to point the finger at Lufthansa, his own consultants. They will take the hit but in a very positive way.

They have not really discussed in their Report how trucks will get from the airport to the border. Perhaps they will fly there magically. I am sure you can guess why not. It means thousands of trucks on E C Row since the "cargo service" will be primarily trucks not air anyway. I know it, Lufthansa knows it, Eddie knows it and now so do you, dear reader.

If Eddie's idea is to work, he needs a secure expressway to the border, especially if there is pre-clearance.

Gee, that fits in with Brighton Beach and the DRIC bridge since we already know that an upgraded E C Row is planned west of Huron Church. Just upgrade the road east of Huron Church and tie it into the Manning Raod/Lauzon plans. That is a no-brainer. Each piece falling into place seaparately so no one will really appreciate what is happening until it is too late.

I have Blogged about this before too.

Of course, this is all part of a bigger plan. If taking away all of his truck traffic with the new road network being built piece-meal, a stage at a time so they think they are fooling him, does not scare Matty into selling his bridge cheaply, nothing will:

  • "It is assumed that Road Feeder Services (RFS) and Charter Traffic create the majority of the cargo tonnage for YQG. The dominance of the forecasted cargo tonnage that is created by RFS reflects the role of Windsor as a transit location for cargo being unloaded from trucks crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada."

Not a mention of E C Row in the Lufthansa report although we did read:

  • "Ontario provides more than 16,500 centerline kilometers of provincial highways. Highway 401 for example stretches 820 kilometers from Windsor to the Quebec border and is one of the busiest roads in the world...

    For many industries the Ambassador Bridge – carrying nearly a quarter of Canada-US Trade in 2008 – is the main conduit between the United States (Detroit) and Canada (Windsor). It is the busiest commercial vehicle border crossing in North America."

The road network comes in later after we have all bought into Eddie's concept and it is too late to stop:

  • "7.1.3 Development of the “Cargo Village”

    If YQG became part of an extended Cargo Village, not only would the City of Windsor and Windsor-Essex County benefit in terms of business development, revenues and new jobs, but YQG itself would likely benefit from the demand for air cargo services (and passenger services) generated within the Cargo Village. The medium to long term objective therefore should be to plan, design and develop a Cargo Village at YQG that will become a multimodal gateway, incorporating airport and surrounding industrial areas, together with rail links and trucking facilities, to attract, bundle and channel the international movement of cargo to and from points in North America."

A planned campaign will be started to justify all of the trucks on E C Row. Eddie will have to permit it because he cannot be responsible for a deathtrap on City streets or to be accused of changing his mind for the wrong reasons.

Anne Jarvis for starters will do another column. She has scared everyone with the Dougall Avenue work column. Heck, all she will have to do is change a few words and there will be an E C Row deathtrap column with all of those trucks mixing in with cars:

  • "A scary gateway into city

    Are you a thrill-seeker? Do you crave death-defying adventure?

    Try navigating the Dougall Death Trap...

    This area isn't even safe for motorists. Being stuck in backups due to accidents is a regular feature of commuting that stretch. There were 93 accidents, almost two a week, between Ouellette Place and West Grand last year...

    But none of the projects include Dougall because the environmental assessment hasn't even started.

    It's not like no one has noticed this death trap.

    A consultant told the city almost 20 years ago that this was a problem."

Wow, imagine the columns that she, mini-Gord and Gord will do along with Editorials blasting truck traffic on E C Row! They will demand that the Senior Levels take over the road and upgrade it for safety reasons

Eddie will generously give in to public pressure and allow it. What a guy. That is why he will change his mind otherwise he would remain firmly against it. As firmly as his mayoral election promise of having a partnership for an arena downtown with a maximun City exposure of $15M!

Just thought you ought to know what is really behind the airport plans. The beauty of it is that the foreign-retained consultants who live more than 4-500KMs from here are only being paid a mere half a million dollars for all of this. They probably have not been let in on the secret either.

Mere peanuts in the grand scheme of things. If the Feds can provide the cash for Estrin's $6 M legal and consulting fees through an over-inflated price for Brighton Beach, why they can pay Lufthansa one way or the other too:

  • "While still early in the process, Francis guesstimates it could cost up to $20 million "to build out the facilities to get us started in the air cargo business."

    He describes as "complementary" the more than $50 million in recent stimulus spending approvals for airport improvements, including a new runway, as well as to service the surrounding lands. He said senior governments can be expected to assist with Windsor's efforts at "transitioning" its struggling economy."

C, D, E, F....W, X, Y, Z!