Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Newest Border Stories

Hot off the press. Stories to shock and amaze you and to make you cringe!


Did you see this item on the Council Communications package:

The original cost projection was $6M not very long ago. The Feds balked at first since they only had set aside only $2.9M for the project but must have knuckled after August this year when the cost was "just over $8M." Now it is $8.9M and counting.

About a 50% overrun. That is even worse than other City projects around here.

What will DRIC cost!

It hardly inspires confidence when the head of Infrastructure Ontario said in Windsor:
  • "It may end up as a road to nowhere, but the $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway is going to be a reality -- and very soon, the president and CEO of Infrastructure Ontario said Thursday.

    Whether a new international bridge in Brighton Beach ever gets built or even if Michigan backs out of the proposed $5-billion border infrastructure effort, construction will start "almost immediately" in Windsor on a new border highway in the Talbot Road-Huron Church Road corridor, said David Livingston.

    "The road is going ahead," he said."

  • "While $1.6 billion has been touted for months by DRIC and politicians as a projected cost for the parkway, that number should be thrown out the window, Livingston said.

    "We don't give (bidders) a budget," he said. "We give specifications of what we want to have built. They design to those specifications and put a price on design.

    "Our answer is 'it's going to be, what it's going to be.' We rely on the competitive process to get the best numbers. The presumption is they will fight with each other to come up with the lowest price."

I cannot understand the reason for spending one penny of this $9M of taxpayer money to help out a private operator (Hmmm isn't this anti-competitive and discrimination against the Bridge Company). There will be no need for this ferry service if the DRIC Bridge is built in 2015 or later since it will be allowed to carry hazardous loads.

Oh, I got it. It's really a signal. We are now being told, subtly of course, that there will be no DRIC bridge after all. Therefore, we still need the ferry service!


Classic line from the Wizard of Oz that now can be applied to Macquarie's toll road projects. You remember Macquarie the ex-operator of the Tunnel who are now short-listed as part of a group to build the DRIC road. The same Macquarie who could not raise money for the Port Mann Bridge!

Well things are not too good in the merry old land of toll-roads:

  • "Macquarie to split gems from dud pikes

    Macquarie are proposing to split their portfolio of pikes into the gems (called Mature MIG) and the duds called (called Active MIG). For the MMIG gems investors will pay a premium but will see the returns roll in steadily. The duds, Macquarie management will be working their tails off - active management - to make them less duddish. But being a more dicey investment AMIG the dud securities will probably sell at a lower price...

    MMIG would comprise:

    - 407ETR Toronto $A3.28b ($2.99b)

    - Westlink M7 Sydney $A359m ($327m)

    AMIG would comprise a number of roads including:

    - Chicago Skyway $A148m ($135m)

    - Indiana Toll Road $A98m ($88m)

But do not cry too much for Macquarie:

  • "MIG split, but gravy train flows on

    For Macquarie Capital, the gravy train associated with Macquarie Infrastructure Group will keep flowing even after it separates into two companies.

    Mature (Good) MIG appears able to split from the manager in return for $80 million or so in restructuring fees...

    But the fees being paid to Macquarie to continue managing Active (Bad) MIG are actually proportionately higher than under the previous structure"

Can you imagine if Macquarie had the nerve to say now that it wanted to finance the DRIC bridge and plazas in both countries. Naw, no one would be that bold.


Some speculation in Australia:

  • "UBS analyst Scott Kelly thinks Good MIG, which will own only the 407 toll road in Canada and the Westlink M7 could be a potential takeover target, in the footsteps of an earlier spin-off, Sydney Roads Group. But if that’s true, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board – once considered a potential buyer – would now appear unlikely to make a move, since it sold its 10 per cent stake in MIG a week before the split was announced."

However, Michael Nobrega wants to be heavily invested in infrastructure. Do I get a finder's fee for bringing this concept to his attention?


That's what the DRIC Engineers and their insurers must be praying for as well

  • "Archbishop blesses new shrine in salt mine 120 stories beneath Detroit

    Clad in a black miner's jacket and sky blue hard hat, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron descended 1,200 feet and 400 million years into the salt of the earth.

    The archbishop blessed a newly crafted statue and shrine to St. Barbara, the patroness of miners, at the base of the hoist -- the only portal in or out --- at the Detroit Salt Co. on the city's southwest side, Michigan's lone rock-salt mine.


Who cares what the Premier says! Litigious Edgar (aka Eddie) and Estrin still are around

  • "Parkway plan is 'final,' says McGuinty
    'Move ahead' premier says; No meeting with Francis

    "In Windsor for the 2009 Ontario Liberal Party annual general meeting, McGuinty was clear when asked if any chance remains to fine tune the new border access route, budgeted at $1.6 billion, and billed as the most expensive roadway in the history of the province.

    “We have now nailed down the final plan,” McGuinty told reporters, after visiting St. Clair College to talk with second-career students, many of whom are training in the construction trades that will help build the massive infrastructure project. “It’s now incumbent on all of us to move ahead with that.

    “I am very eager to begin work at the earliest possible opportunity to get people employed and to enhance the quality of life for Windsorites.”

    Asked whether he would meet on this trip with Mayor Eddie Francis, who has long battled with the province to include more elements of the city’s costlier GreenLink proposal, McGuinty provided a one-word answer: “No.”

We will know the battle is over when the Greenlink banner at Council Chambers comes floating down just like the banners for the losers on the ABDC TV Dance show.


Such foolish politicans whose bureaucrats have not prepared them properly

  • "McGuinty also dismissed concerns that Michigan seems less-than-eager to start the project, given state lawmakers have yet to official green light even the acquisition of land, something they won’t vote on till 2010.

    “I had the opportunity just yesterday to speak with the new United States ambassador to Canada,” McGuinty said. “This is a very important and pressing priority for Washington, for Ottawa, certainly for Toronto, and for the people of Windsor, as well. We have got to get on with this project.”

    Windsor MPP and Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan — standing beside the premier along with Essex MPP Bruce Crozier — also weighed in on the issue, suggesting that vocal DRIC critic Michigan Senator Alan Cropsey is wrong to suggest the project will be voted down in Michigan.

    “I have had the opportunity to speak with American federal and state officials and remind Sen. Cropsey that there’s a signed agreement between the governments of Michigan, Ontario, Canada and the United States,” Duncan said. “It’s important to move on with this, and we will be.”

Oh Dalton, President Obama after NAFTA-gate and the high-ranking Congressional leaders have no interest in building a DRIC bridge. The PM hardly received any face-time with the President in two meetings, at the Three Amigos conference and in DC.

I am afraid that Senator Cropsey has a better feel for Michigan politics and what the Governor and House leader think than our Minister of Finance.

Speaking of signed agreements, Dwight has obviously never been shown several key ones or he would not have said what he did.

Poor Dwight, it will be so embarrassing for him. First the "untendered, $81-million contract for an energy centre built to power a casino in Windsor" and then if the Opposition ever wakes up, the huge MegaProject run amuk known as the DRIC Road.


No, as we shall hear soon enough. Perhaps Edgar will sue and stall things off to save face for everyone too.

  • "Ontario credit rating dips

    The Ontario government had its credit rating downgraded one category by Standard and Poor's Ratings Services on Thursday in response to its recent projection for a record deficit and negative prospects for the province's economy going forward.

    The province's rating was dropped to AA-minus from AA.

    "The downgrade reflects our view of the sharp deterioration in Ontario's current and projected fiscal performances announced recently in the government's second-quarter fiscal update," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Stephen Ogilvie said in a statement.

    Last week the Ontario government said it expects to run a deficit of $24.7 billion in the current fiscal year, up from its expectation of $14.1 billion in March."