The Windsor-Detroit Gateway is a vital transportation artery between Canada and the United States. This border crossing is the busiest international trade corridor in North America and is Canada's largest border crossing. Over 16 million cars and trucks cross the Windsor-Detroit Gateway every year and in 2003, approximately $140 billion worth of goods passed through the Gateway.
The Windsor-Detroit Gateway includes the following border crossings:
- Ambassador Bridge
- Detroit-Windsor Tunnel
- Canadian Pacific Railway rail tunnel
- Detroit-Windsor truck ferry
The Canadian and U.S. governments are committed to an efficient and secure Windsor-Detroit Gateway. The development of additional border capacity is a national priority in both countries to support the dynamic just-in-time economy in Canada and the United States.
The Governments of Canada, the United States, Ontario and Michigan are moving forward in a Bi-National Partnership to implement a 30-year 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 is currently undertaking the next phase in the process, which is the coordinated bi-national environmental assessment. This assessment will allow the governments to decide on the location of a new or expanded international crossing, taking into account the impact on the environment and local communities.
The environmental assessment work will be completed by the end of 2007, at which time the Bi-National Partnership will have developed, consulted on and carried out preliminary design of a recommended plan for additional border capacity. Detailed design, property acquisition, and construction would follow, leading to the opening of additional crossing capacity in 2013, about the same time as the Ambassador Bridge is projected to reach capacity.
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.
Short- and Medium-Term Solutions
Recognizing that a long-term solution will take time, federal, provincial/state and local governments are also implementing short- and medium-term measures to relieve border congestion and improve traffic flows to existing crossings.
On March 11, 2004, the Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Windsor signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Let's Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy. Funding for this strategy comes from the Canada-Ontario Border Infrastructure Fund, a joint commitment by the federal and provincial governments to invest $300 million for the implementation of short- and medium-term projects to improve traffic flows to existing crossings and address congestion and security issues at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway. Five projects, announced as Phase 1 of the Strategy and totalling $82.25 million, are underway including improvements to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Plaza, a pedestrian overpass, road-rail grade separations and associated environmental assessments, road improvements to facilitate access to a pre-processing facility and implementation of Intelligent Transportation Systems to improve traffic management, control and driver information.
The Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the City of Windsor, and Essex County will continue to work together to ensure the expedient implementation of initiatives under the Strategy to improve the efficiency of the Windsor-Detroit Gateway, in a manner that is consistent with the long-term planning already underway under the Bi-National Partnership.
The Governments of Canada and the United States remain committed to providing sufficient resources to keep our border functioning efficiently. Recent measures, such as the opening of four new U.S.-bound commercial customs inspection booths on the Ambassador Bridge in June 2004, have reduced congestion along Huron Church Road in Windsor. Both countries are also committed to implementing harmonized border facilitation initiatives such as Free and Secure Trade (FAST), which gives advance notification of commercial shipments to expedite the secure flow of goods and NEXUS which simplifies crossing for low risk automobile travellers. The two federal governments, in partnership with other levels of government and private-sector partners have committed to reducing transit times across the border by 25 per cent, over the next year.
For more information about the Bi-National Partnership and initiatives currently underway to improve traffic flows and reduce congestion at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway, please visit www.partnershipborderstudy.com.