Burning Bridges: Truckers critical of Ambassador’s ads

Today’s Trucking

TORONTO – Ontarians will see through the “blatant self-interest” of TV ads that attack Premier Dalton McGuinty for wanting to build a truck route to a new public  bridge between Windsor and Detroit.

So says David Bradley of the Ontario Trucking Association, which is the latest business group to blast a “misinformation” campaign — as dubbed by some critics — launched in Canada by the privately owned Ambassador Bridge.

The Ambassador company has been paying for a series of ads on both sides of the border to incite opposition toward a publicly funded trade crossing planned for construction about a mile southwest of the Ambassador.

The ads attack Ontario’s Windsor-Essex Parkway, the $1 billion-plus, below-grade truck route that would link Highway 401 to the new bridge in the Brighton Beach area.

“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.”

Bradley pointed out that cross-border travelers and truckers have long bemoaned the current municipal route to the Ambassador Bridge – the infamous Huron-Church corridor. – which is known for its bottlenecks and traffic gridlock on busy travel days.

“A truck can travel from Toronto to Miami and it will go through 16 stop lights; 15 of them are in Windsor,” Bradley quips.

The Detroit-based bridge company, which the Ontario Liberals say is trying to influence the Canadian election with the attack ads, insists it will forge ahead with its own plan to twin the Ambassador. However, it lacks the appropriate approvals — environmental and otherwise — from Canadian and U.S. authorities.

In fact, it’s widely thought that Canada and Ontario want a public-controlled bridge so much that they’ll never green light the Ambassador’s project on this side of the border.

Regardless, even if the Ambassador were to gain the necessary approvals, “we still need a new bridge,” insists  Bradley, adding that the Ambassador would 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 public bridge plan (as well as Canada’s $500-million offer to Michigan to get it done) still awaits approval from the Michigan legislature. A vote is expected this fall.