Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reminded of the one...

I just want to say thank you to The Windsor Star for reminding me that we have one member of city council who isn't afraid to speak up and tell people the way it is.

Alan Halberstadt wrote a letter to the editor today calling for people to realize that the first order of business is to REDUCE the number of trucks on the roads - not just accomodate them (which, in the end, only encourages that method of transportation)

Route fixation keeping focus from border fix

I sympathize with the opinion of occupational health activist James Brophy, Oct. 12, that the City of Windsor's plan to spend $1.6 billion on a road solution to bury border trucks is the wrong approach.

Mr. Brophy is bang on. We should be looking first for ways to reduce the number of trucks crossing the Detroit River. Unfortunately, the city has been backed into a corner by senior governments who have decided more and more trucks will keep rolling through Windsor and somehow we have to accommodate them over the next 50 to 100 years.

The alternative to burying trucks in tunnels is to continue the practice of mixing them with cars and stopping and starting them for six kilometres from the 401 to E.C. Row. The stoplights on Huron Church Road offer the worst-case scenario for creating and spreading poisonous diesel fumes.

Mr. Brophy fails to mention that the original Schwartz plan, unveiled in January 2005, includes other components every bit as vital as the Huron Church access route.

Sam Schwartz advocated the following "balanced transportation" elements to subtract 2,000 trucks per day from city streets:
- Increase the capacity of the Detroit-Windsor truck ferry from 50-80 trucks/day to 1,000.
- Build a CP rail tunnel beneath the Detroit River to support double-stack rail containers that carry SUVs, etc.
- Build a multi-modal hub at Windsor Airport aligning ground, air and rail transportation. Rationalize commercial and passenger rail lines and rail yards to eliminate 15 public railway crossings in Windsor and 94 in Essex and Kent counties.

The city needs to revisit the original Schwartz plan, which envisioned a five-phase construction schedule:
- Phase 1: Huron Church bypass, existing ferry, bridge and tunnel improvements.
- Phase 2: New rail tunnel, rail consolidation, multi-modal facility, new rail station.
- Phase 3: Lauzon Parkway and Manning Road extensions to the 401.
- Phase 4: Highway 401 improvements and extension.
- Phase 5: Build the new crossing.

The timing on some of these green elements has become muddled and even forgotten given the fixation on the truck access route.

The city needs to get cracking on them to alleviate Mr. Brophy's grim warning that the Windsor-Detroit border transportation plan will be unsustainable in 15 years.

Ward 3 Councillor

The article which Halberstadt is citing, features James Brophy decrying a huge investment on an option that will be deemed obsolete in twenty years, while doing nothing to curb emmissions. Unfortunately, the Star's archive service was down at the time of this writing, so I cannot reprint it here.

We must encourage Alan to keep up the good fight, and being the sole member of council willing to tell the truth - no matter how hard it is to hear.

Halberstadt for Mayor in 2010!


D$ said...

He has my Vote.

Mark Boscariol said...

Alan definitely gets it, he's been promoting proper urban planning and environmental issues years before it became a "populist" issue that everyone's jumping on.

He also does it from a business sense perspective which I appreciate. Proper urban planning is simply a good investment.

Josh Biggley said...

Mark -- how do we convince the rest of the city to invest in good urban planning? Many of us on this blog have read about the significant benefits of smart urban planning, but we are the converted masses.

Is there anyone in the city with the capacity, financial, academic, political, etc., to make a real case for rebuilding Windsor? We keep seeing bits and pieces, but nobody has attempted to offer the city a complete vision. If we could link together the GreenLink project, the City Centre West/Engineering School, the multi-modal transportation hub at the airport, throw in a good dose of light rail, redesign the downtown core and offer up a real vision of what the future could be -- people might actually think that we can make a difference.

Hell, we can prove our case, without a doubt. The question is whether we are willing to make the case. City administration has the skill sets, but the politics keeps them from speaking out. We need independent yet committed people to do something.

If we don't, we are going to continue to be a cobbled together array of half-hearted projects like a pig wearing a Sunday bonnet. You can dress us up, but we'll still be Windsor unless we make some real and lasting changes.