Binational effort one step closer to a new border crossing between Windsor and Detroit



    WINDSOR, ON, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon,
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable
Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, today welcomed the technically and
environmentally preferred location of the new inspection plazas and bridge
crossing between Windsor and Detroit presented by the binational study team.
    Today's announcement is an important milestone that represents the result
of years of technical studies, analysis and community input by the Detroit
River International Crossing (DRIC) study teams on both sides of the border.
Over the coming months, the DRIC study teams will continue preparation of
final environmental assessment documents for submission to approval
authorities in each country.
    "The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of an efficient,
effective and secure Windsor-Detroit trade corridor, as well as the need to
move ahead with the development of a new border crossing for this region,"
said Minister Cannon. "Today's announcement of the locations of the inspection
plaza and new bridge brings us a step closer to an end-to-end transportation
solution that will support international trade and, therefore, enhance the
economies of Windsor, Essex County, Ontario and Canada."
    "Increasing border crossing capacity while ensuring efficiency and
security are key priorities for our government," said Minister Day. "The Prime
Minister raised the issue of congestion at major border crossing points, such
as Windsor-Detroit, with U.S. President George Bush at the Leaders' Summit in
New Orleans in April."
    The Canadian inspection plaza is bounded by Broadway Street on the south
side, Chappus Street on the north side, the Detroit River on the west side and
the Essex Terminal Railway line on the east side. The new inspection plaza and
bridge will mitigate environmental impacts and therefore improve the quality
of life for local residents.
    The development of additional border crossing capacity at Windsor-Detroit
not only will ensure that trade between Canada and the United States prospers
but will also create jobs on both sides of the border.
    "I congratulate the DRIC study team on reaching this important
milestone," said Sandra Pupatello, Member of Provincial Parliament for Windsor
West. "We committed to making a plaza decision by spring so the residents of
Spring Garden will have clarity on property impacts - and we have done that.
We have always said that the DRIC process would be respectful of the historic
nature of Olde Sandwich Towne and protect its special character - and we have
done that, too."
    The vast majority, 62 per cent, of Canadian and U.S. bilateral trade
crosses the Canada-U.S. border by land. Each day, 36,000 trucks cross our
shared border, more than one-quarter of these at Windsor-Detroit, making it
the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America. In fact, the
total bilateral trade crossing at Windsor-Detroit is greater than all the
trade that exists between the U.S. and Japan.
    Since the implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1989,
two-way trade has tripled and is expected to continue to increase over the
next 30 years. Under high-growth scenarios, cross-border traffic demand could
exceed the capacity of the present border crossing systems in the Detroit
River area as early as 2015. The development of additional border capacity is
critical to support the economies of Canada and the United States.

    A backgrounder on the proposed inspection plaza and bridge, as well as
the ongoing environmental assessment process and the federal land acquisition
for the Canadian inspection plaza and the Canadian half of the bridge, is
attached.
    For more information on DRIC, visit www.partnershipborderstudy.com.

    
                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------
                                 ------------

         PROPOSED INSPECTION PLAZAS AND BRIDGE AT THE WINDSOR-DETROIT
         BORDER CROSSING AND ONGOING ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PROCESS
         ------------------------------------------------------------

    Overview

    The Windsor-Detroit border is the busiest commercial land border crossing
in North America, and trade moving through this corridor is expected to
increase well into the future. This is good news for the economies of
Windsor-Essex County, as well as the provincial and national economies.
    The governments of Canada, the United States, Ontario and Michigan
recognize the importance of the Windsor-Detroit Gateway and have come together
to form the Border Transportation Partnership (the Partnership). The purpose
of the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study is to provide for the
safe, efficient and effective movement of people and goods across the
Canada-U.S. border in the Detroit River area to support the economies of
Ontario, Michigan, Canada and the U.S. - in other words, to construct a new
end-to-end transportation system that will link Highway 401 to the U.S.
interstate system with inspection plazas and a new river crossing in between.
    The partnership has reached an important milestone with the June 18, 2008,
announcement of the technically preferred location for the Canadian inspection
plaza and the river crossing. The announcement is the result of years of
technical studies and analysis by the DRIC study teams on both sides of the
border, undertaken with the benefit of significant community input through
hundreds of information sessions in Canada and the United States.
    The Canadian inspection plaza is bounded by Broadway Street on the south
side, Chappus Street on the north side, the Detroit River on the west side and
the Essex Terminal Railway line on the east side.

    The new bridge

    The final design of the Windsor-Detroit bridge will be determined after
discussions with prospective builders. Given the span required to cross the
Detroit River, there are two bridge design types that could be used: a
suspension bridge, which is recognized by its elongated "M" shape, or a
cable-stayed bridge, which has more of an "A" shape. The Ambassador Bridge,
Mackinac Bridge and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge are suspension bridges.
Examples of cable-stayed bridges include the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa
and the Vancouver Sky Bridge.
    Cable-stayed bridges may look similar to suspension bridges in that both
have roadways that hang from cables and both have towers, but the bridges
support the load of the roadway in very different ways. The difference lies in
how the cables are connected to the towers. In suspension bridges, the cables
ride freely across the towers, transmitting the load to the anchorages at
either end. In cable-stayed bridges, the cables are attached to the towers,
which alone bear the load.
    Final costs for the bridge cannot be determined until the final design is
selected. Details on the suspension bridge and cable-stayed bridge options
follow:

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    Suspension             Cable-Stayed
                                    Bridge Option          Bridge Option
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total length of crossing        2.9 km                 2.9 km
    alignment (Canadian plaza
    to U.S. plaza)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bridge span (distance           855 m                  840 m
    between main towers/pylons)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Piers in the water              None                   None
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ranking                         5th-longest            Longest
                                    suspension bridge      cable-stayed
                                    in North America       span in North
                                                           America
                                    20th-longest
                                    suspension bridge      5th-longest
                                    in world               cable-stayed
                                                           bridge in the
                                                           world
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Clearance at shoreline          40 m                   40 m
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Clearance at centre             47 m                   47 m
    of channel
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Height of main towers/pylons    140 m - slightly       approximately
                                    higher than the        250 m
                                    Fisher Building in     approximately
                                    downtown Detroit;      30 m higher than
                                    Ambassador Bridge      the Renaissance
                                    main towers are        Center in Detroit
                                    approximately          (220 m)
                                    120 m high
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bridge deck                     approximately 36 m     approximately 36 m
                                    wide and accommodates  wide and
                                    6 lanes, a median,     accommodates
                                    shoulders and a        6 lanes, a median,
                                    walkway on one side    shoulders and a
                                                           walkway on one
                                                           side
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Building material estimates     400,000 tonnes of      135,000 tonnes of
                                    concrete               concrete
                                    22,000 tonnes of       24,000 tonnes of
                                    steel                  steel
                                    6,900 tonnes of        3,300 tonnes of
                                    cable                  cable
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Note: Information in the above chart is preliminary and subject to
          change.

    Inspection plazas

    The plazas will be designed to shield the host communities from
cross-border traffic. For instance, the Canadian plaza will include 43 acres
(17 hectares) of buffer area. The plazas will also include state-of-the-art
inspection facilities to promote the flow of traffic. The final plaza designs
will be determined in consultation with the Canada Border Services Agency.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Canadian Plaza (B1)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    132 acres (53 hectares)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total of 29 inbound inspection lanes, including:

    9 lanes for cars
    5 lanes for cars or trucks
    14 lanes for trucks
    1 lane for buses
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    103 secondary inspection parking spaces for commercial vehicles
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    9 toll-collection lanes
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Note: Information in the above chart is preliminary and subject to
          change.

    What are the next steps?

    The DRIC study team met a significant project milestone on June 18, 2008,
with the announcement of the technically preferred alternative for the
Canadian inspection plazas and the bridge.
    With more than 300 public consultation sessions held to date, community
consultation has been, and will continue to be, an important part of this
project, and public information open houses (PIOHs) will be held as future
milestones are reached.
    The federal government has not begun purchasing property for the Canadian
plaza and the Canadian half of the bridge but is prepared to discuss such
interest with willing sellers at any time. All property owners will be treated
fairly and will receive the compensation to which they are entitled in
accordance with federal legislation. It is the Government of Canada's
preference to reach mutually acceptable agreements with all property owners.
It is expected that discussions with affected property owners will commence
during the summer.
    For more information, interested parties should contact 1-866-636-3136 or
send an e-mail to Windsor-Detroit@tc.gc.ca.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Preferred plazas and crossing location                     June 2008
     in Canada announced
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    U.S. final environmental impact statement                  Fall 2008
     (EIS) circulated
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    U.S. record of decision (ROD) expected                     End of 2008
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Canadian submission for environmental                      End of 2008
     assessment (EA) approvals
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Canadian EA approvals expected                             Fall 2009
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Windsor-Essex Parkway

    Construction of the Windsor-Essex Parkway, the Canadian access road, is
expected to start as early as 2009. It will take four to five years to design
and build the bridge and the inspection plazas. The DRIC study team is working
to move the project forward as quickly as possible. The documentation for the
environmental assessment must be finalized and submitted to the appropriate
Canadian and U.S. authorities for approval, and an agreement must be reached
among the partners on the governance structure and the financing method to be
used.

    The environmental study process - a co-ordinated process

    This international transportation improvement project will require
approvals from governments on both sides of the border. The Partnership has
developed a co-ordinated process that will enable the joint selection of a
recommended river crossing location that meets the requirements of the Ontario
Environmental Assessment Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and
the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act in an effective and efficient
manner.
    A key principle of this process is that all affected and interested
parties have been and are being given the opportunity to participate and
provide input throughout the study. The Partnership is proactively seeking
community and stakeholder input during the study.

    Requirements of the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act (OEAA)

    As required under the OEAA, terms of reference were prepared and received
approval prior to commencement of the DRIC environmental assessment study. The
document outlined the framework that the DRIC study team followed in
completing the environmental assessment, including key opportunities for
public participation.
    On completion of this study, the EA report will be submitted to the
Ontario Minister of the Environment for approval. The formal review process
provides further opportunities for public comment.

    Requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)

    The CEAA applies to certain projects that require a decision by the
Government of Canada. In the case of this study, Transport Canada has
partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to conduct the Canadian
portion of the study. The requirements of the OEAA and CEAA are being
co-ordinated in a manner that will ensure the most rigorous EA standards are
met.
    A project description was prepared for the DRIC study, and federal
agencies with an interest in the study have been identified. The project was
listed in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry in March 2006, and
federal agencies have been participating throughout the study.
    As part of the co-ordinated EA process, the federal draft EA guidelines
and the public consultation plan were provided for public review. These
documents are available to be downloaded or viewed online at the Partnership
website (www.partnershipborderstudy.com). Information on the federal
environmental assessment process is also available at www.ceaa.gc.ca.
    A CEAA screening report identifying project impacts and mitigation needs
will be prepared, drawing on the technical work that has been carried out
throughout the study.

    Requirements of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    In the United States, NEPA is the umbrella environmental law that provides
for a decision-making process relying on interdisciplinary analysis, as well
as consultation with and comments from the public, stakeholders and regulatory
agencies.
    For major federal actions, an environmental impact study (EIS) is
prepared. A draft EIS explains the purpose of and need for the project,
examines alternatives, discusses the impacts of the practical alternatives,
and documents the public involvement and co-ordination that occurs. The draft
EIS is released for formal comment and a public hearing is held. Subsequently,
a decision is made on a preferred alternative, based on the comments received
and any further analysis that is required to respond adequately to the
comments. That decision is made available to the public and agencies through
the formal availability of the final EIS (FEIS). When comments on the FEIS are
addressed and the decision is to pursue an "action" alternative, a record of
decision (ROD) is issued under NEPA. An ROD completes the process and allows a
project to advance to the design stage and project implementation.

    Summary

    The DRIC study is following three legislated processes. These processes
require that the DRIC environmental study be thorough, open, transparent and
fully accessible to the public for scrutiny and evaluation. The DRIC study
team is fully committed to working with the public, communities and interested
groups in Windsor-Essex County, in consultation with the U.S. partners, to
develop a solution that best meets future transportation needs while
minimizing community impacts.

                                                                   June 2008
    




For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Mark Butler, Transport Canada, Windsor, (519) 967-4280; Transport Canada is
online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and speeches at
www.tc.gc.ca/e-news and keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada;
This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons
with visual disabilities


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