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GOVERNMENTS OF CANADA AND ONTARIO LAUNCH PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS FOR INCREASING CAPACITY AT WINDSOR-DETROIT GATEWAY

OTTAWA – Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre and Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar today announced that community outreach events will be launched next week as part of the Bi-National environmental assessment study process for new crossing capacity at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway.

“The Windsor-Detroit Gateway is of vital importance to the economic future of the Windsor region, Southwestern Ontario and the rest of Canada,” said Mr. Lapierre. “The Government of Canada remains committed to doing its share to make the Gateway work for all Canadians.”

Over the next few weeks and months, the consultants for the Bi-National Partnership will be holding community events to listen to the thoughts and concerns of all interested parties.

“Windsor is Canada’s busiest and most important border crossing. Over 16 million vehicles, and over $120 billion in goods cross through this gateway each year,” said Mr. Takhar. “Our economy depends on keeping traffic moving. That’s why a new or expanded border crossing is a priority for the Government of Ontario.”

The Governments of Canada, the United States, Ontario and Michigan are moving forward, through the Bi-National Partnership, to implement a 30-year, five-phase transportation strategy addressing the various challenges at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway, including free and secure trade, security, environmental concerns and community impacts.

The Bi-National Partnership has initiated the environmental assessment process, which will lead to new or expanded crossing capacity to meet the long-term needs of the region. It is expected that the preferred corridor will be selected by the end of 2006, and the full environmental assessment will be completed in 2007, at which time the Bi-National Partnership will have developed, consulted on and carried out a preliminary design of a recommended plan for additional border capacity. Construction would begin in 2010, leading to the opening of additional crossing capacity in 2013, around the same time as the Ambassador Bridge is projected to reach capacity.

As part of the Partnership’s commitment to working with local and municipal councils, briefings on the environmental assesment phase will be held as follows:

  • Windsor City Council on March 21, 2005;
  • LaSalle Council on March 22, 2005; and
  • Amherstburg Council on March 29, 2005.

Public input is essential to the success of any proposed solution. As a result, public consultations, consisting of informal drop-in sessions with information on study activities, issues, important community features and criteria to be considered during development of crossing alternatives, will be held in the near future and details will be published in local newspapers.

A number of proposals for new or expanded border crossings have already been put forward. These proposals will provide valuable input to the process, as will the Schwartz Report that was recently made public by the City of Windsor. The Partnership will consider all of these proposals, together with other suggestions that may be identified by stakeholders.

In parallel, the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Windsor, and Essex County continue to work together to reach agreement on additional initiatives. These initiatives will be pursued under the Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy to relieve congestion and improve traffic flows to existing crossings in a manner that is consistent with the long-term planning process already underway through the Bi-National Partnership.

The Governments of Canada and Ontario are committed to funding further initiatives under the Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy and would like to reach an agreement with local partners as soon as possible.

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