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Roadbuilding | O H & S

March 7, 2005

Assessment is under way

Study will help determine best location for a crossing

An environmental assessment (EA) is under way as part of the lengthy process to determine the best location for a new or expanded international crossing at the Windsor-Detroit border.

The provincial and federal governments say the assessment will help them in choosing a location that is environmentally responsible.

“The governments of Canada and Ontario recognize the pressing need for additional border capacity in the Windsor-Detroit gateway area,” said Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre.

“As we move ahead with this next phase, we will continue to focus on enhancing the efficiency, security and safety of the gateway, while minimizing the environmental impacts on the residents of local communities.”

Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar said moving toward a new or expanded Windsor-Detroit crossing is great news for the community.

Harinder Takhar

“We are working with our partners to ease congestion and strengthen the economy at Canada’s busiest border crossing.”

Due to the nature of the project, and the complexity of border transportation issues in the Windsor-Detroit area, the EA is necessary to meet the legislative and regulatory requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act and the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act.

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation is leading the Canadian part of the program in co-ordination with Transport Canada. The Michigan Department of Transportation, in co-ordination with the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, is leading the U.S. work program.

During the EA phase, a number of solutions will be studied, with consideration being given to environmental and community effects, and a location for a new or expanded international crossing will be recommended.

The work will be completed by the end of 2007, leading to the opening of additional crossing capacity by 2013.

The public is getting an opportunity to participate in the process. The first of five rounds of public meetings is planned for April.

In addition, local advisory councils on both sides of the border will provide the public, the private sector and community groups the opportunity to comment throughout the EA phase.

The EA phase follows a Planning, Needs and Feasibility Study that was completed in January 2004.

The terms of reference for the EA were reviewed by the public last spring and approved by Ontario’s Minister of the Environment in September.

Following a competitive bidding process, URS Canada and the Corradino Group were selected to lead the Canadian and American work, respectively.

The development of additional border capacity is a national priority in both Canada and the U.S. to support the just-in-time economies of both countries.

Governments on both sides of the border have implemented short- and medium-term measures to relieve border congestion and improve traffic flows to existing crossings.

In the Windsor area, Transport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation committed $880,000 towards the deployment of advanced technologies to improve traffic management on Huron Church Road and on approaches to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel.

Last March, the governments of Canada, Ontario and the City of Windsor signed a memorandum of understanding for a Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy. Funding for the strategy comes from the Canada-Ontario Border Infrastructure Fund and a joint commitment by the federal and provincial governments to invest $300 million for the implementation of short- and medium-term projects to improve local traffic flows and address congestion and security issues at the border.

Five projects announced as phase one of the strategy are already under way and will be completed by 2006-2007.

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