Border gridlock a big topic in Windsor, Canada these days

| 3/24/2006

When cars and trucks cross from Detroit into the Canadian city of Windsor, they basically spill out onto city streets and take Huron Church Road to connect to highways a couple of miles away.

About 850 Windsor residents gathered Thursday, March 23, to discuss options and vent frustrations about the ongoing Detroit River International Crossing project – a project without a lot of concrete plans at this point.

By some media accounts in the Detroit-Windsor region, a new site for a border crossing could be chosen by the end of 2007 and constructed by 2013. Currently, the only two ways across are the Ambassador Bridge, owned by billionaire Matty Moroun, and a publicly owned tunnel beneath the Detroit River.

The Windsor Star reported that 40 people spoke at the meeting Thursday, and topics ranged from a proposal to widen Huron Church Road and Talbot Road as the main border route, to protecting a natural area known as the Ojibway Prairie.

Guest speakers for the evening were traffic guru Sam Schwartz, who has an office of his New York consulting firm in Windsor, and lawyer David Estrin, who called on the community to work together.

Schwartz, aka “Gridlock Sam,” encouraged residents to demand a number of alternatives and environmental assessments of any proposal brought forward by the Detroit River International Crossing group or the Windsor City Council.

A spokeswoman from Schwartz's office said the meeting highlighted the importance of the issue for local residents as well as international traffic.

According to The Star , the biggest applause of the night was when the topic of a new tunnel for border traffic was discussed. Proponents say a tunnel would be a better alternative to a bridge because it would keep noise and emissions pollution out of residential neighborhoods and school districts.

Separate consultants hired by the Ambassador Bridge Company recently told the media that another bridge wouldn't be necessary for another 20 or 30 years.

Editor's note: For an in-depth look at “Gridlock Sam” check out Land Line Staff Writer David Tanner's article from the March/April issue of Land Line Magazine by clicking here.