Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where to build the so-called "Road to Nowhere"? There's really no where else to put it

Now this is interesting ... the "Canadian Transit Company," which sounds like a coalition of the urban public transit providers in Canada but is in fact the Canadian face of the American-owned Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario with Detroit, Michigan, is running a series of ads claiming Premier Dad wants to build a two billion dollar "road to nowhere."   In fact the road would be the long awaited expressway link connecting Highway 401 to a new bridge that on the other side would connect with the major artery linking the Midwest to the Confederacy, Interstate 75.

Some say the traffic numbers don't justify a new link.   Others say it's just an excuse for the Moroun family to try to keep control of what traffic they have -- and it's a big chunk:   25% of the border traffic between the US and Canada goes on the existing bridge.    It's not the first time they and their allies tried political stunts -- a few weeks back the so-called "Americans for Prosperity" group issued so-called "eviction notices" for homes slated to be expropriated on the US side (or not) which was really advertising for the existing bridge and its "benefits."

As the industry watchdog website Toll Roads News has pointed out, the bridge has been cited for contempt of court in Michigan numerous times for how they constructed what was supposed to be a "speedier" border plaza as well as building piers for a "twin" bridge right next to the current one..   And the argument being floated right now -- it flouts Ontario's election laws that forbid foreign lobbying on the airwaves.

Set all of that aside.   Another bridge is needed because the Ambassador, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Bluewater Bridges upstream are all potential terrorist targets.   Cut off just one of those lifelines and you can imagine there would be even more traffic chaos than there is.    But a two lane tunnel that forbids most truck traffic and a twin set of bridges way upstream forcing a huge detour back to Detroit (it's more of a direct link to Indianapolis and Chicago) isn't exactly my idea of competition.

There is simply no excuse why there should be 16 traffic lights between an expressway and a bridge even if the linking street has four lanes in each direction.    The Canadian and US governments committed funding for the project in 2004.  The National Security Committee of the Canadian Senate recommended funding a new link back in 2007, saying that this new bridge should be considered practically Priority One on the security scale.   We're in 2011.   It's still tangled up in court -- the American courts.

And this is a project that would have meaningful benefits over the long term as well as the short term jobs.   It's time we built the damn road, as long as there's also an equal amount committed for beginning the process of high speed rail (cheapest way is eliminating all level crossings along the Corridor route) and re-establishing the direct Toronto-Chicago Amtrak run.

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