Ontario Trucking Association
TORONTO – The president of the Ontario Trucking Association, David Bradley, says he thinks “most people will see through the blatant self-interest” inherent in the television advertisements bought and paid for by the Canadian arm of the US company that privately owns the Ambassador Bridge – North America’s busiest border crossing – which attack Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty over monies allocated to building a freeway link to the proposed new, publicly owned bridge at Windsor-Detroit.
“Far from being a road to nowhere as the TV commercials suggest, this is a highway to jobs and prosperity,” says Bradley. “There’s no point in building a new bridge if it does not have freeway-to-freeway access on both sides of the border.”
“As far as I know, all the political parties in Ontario – at all levels of government – support the new bridge. It is the most important infrastructure project in the country and it is years overdue.”
“The residents of Windsor, truckers and other travellers, have long bemoaned the fact that the approach to North America’s busiest border crossing is basically a municipal road that wasn’t designed to handle the volumes of traffic we have today and that we will have in the future.” Referring to the infamous Huron-Church Road, he says “a truck can travel from Toronto to Miami and it will go through 16 stop lights; 15 of them are in Windsor.”
Construction of the new bridge is the responsibility of the federal governments of Canada and the United States and the State of Michigan. Ontario’s responsibility is to pay for the highway link to the bridge. The owners of the Ambassador Bridge, which currently has a virtual monopoly over truck traffic across the border (the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel is not a valid option for most trucks), has been fighting the new crossing saying it will build a second span at its bridge, without taxpayer money. However, it does not have the environmental approvals it would need from governments on both sides of the border.
According to Bradley, “even if the Ambassador Bridge obtained the approvals to build its second span, we still need the new bridge. But the fact is there is only one bridge proposal that has the necessary environmental approvals and there is only one bridge project that will have a freeway link on the Canadian side.” Bradley says a new, public bridge will not put the Ambassador Bridge out of business. “It will still have an important role to play; a lot of traffic is local and will still use the Ambassador Bridge. It is well-run and competition is a good thing.”
The last hurdle to giving the green light to begin constructing the new bridge is the approval of the Michigan legislature. However, the state’s new Republican governor, Rick Snyder, supports the new bridge and a bill is expected to be voted on this fall. The Government of Canada has offered to pay Michigan’s share of the construction costs and recoup the money through tolls.