West end councillor supports city response to bridge application
The Windsor councillor representing the west end says he’s on board with the city’s plans to use a lawyer to respond to the proposal to twin the Ambassador Bridge.
Transport Canada opened up a public consultation period for anyone to offer feedback to the Canadian Transit Company and Detroit International Bridge Company’s project application.
Along with constructing a six-lane parallel bridge, the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project would expand the Windsor Customs Plaza and rehabilitate the lead-up to the bridge on the Canadian side.
The city has hired Toronto-based environmental lawyer David Estrin to construct a formal response in hopes the project is shut down, Mayor Drew Dilkens announced last week.
“Historically, that’s been the process and just what the mayor said, fourth and goal. It’s basically to the end,” said Ward 2 Coun. John Elliott. “I don’t know what the other recourse would be.”
Elliott said the bridge expansion would change the whole Sandwich Town neighbourhood.
“You can look at it as progression, or you can look at it as staying the status quo. Pick what you want to pick, but for us residents that live here, it will never look the same, that’s for sure,” he said.
“We want to definitely make sure that Sandwich Town is preserved like it should be and I think it should be.”
Elliott said he’s letting the process take its course at this point and will have more to say once the final decision is made, but he encourages anyone to submit their own comments online.
“Would I have done something different way back when? Yeah, I would’ve done something different, but it’s all water under the bridge at this point,” said Elliott, who lives and works in Sandwich Town.
During his campaign for council last year, Elliott said he sees the boarded up homes on Indian Road owned by the bridge companies as a 50/50 problem between the city and the company.
“Let’s say the bridge doesn’t get built, what do they do with those houses? I don’t know that they’re saveable after going on 11 years some of them, so something’s got to give either way,” he said.
The bridge company plans to expand the Canadian inspection plaza by 9.5 acres to the area of those Indian Road homes.
A presentation from the company made available online says the project is needed because the existing bridge was built in 1929 and has narrow lanes and no shoulders. It says there are also national security concerns with the commercial inspection plaza four kilometres from the bridge.
Another issue, according to the presentation, is the economic loss caused by a slower traffic flow when the bridge needs maintenance.
However, the federal government is in the process of building its own $2 billion bridge, which will cross the Detroit River about 2 kilometres west of the Ambassador Bridge and connect to the Herb Gray Parkway. That project is expected to complete in 2020.
The bridge company’s report says its second bridge would take 18 months to complete after final approval. Currently, the project has been approved in a Canadian Environmental Assessment Act decision, but it is awaiting approval from a counterpart assessment in the U.S.
Transport Canada will make its final recommendation on the project sometime after the consultation period ends April 27. Anyone can submit a comment through email or online form at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/page-653.html.
A representative from the CTC said they will not offer a comment on the consultation process.
Rashida Tlaib 
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