Finally, A Windsor/Detroit Border Solution
I know that you will not believe it. It was completely unexpected. Moreover, the solution is relatively inexpensive, certainly nothing approaching the multibillion-dollar cost that taxpayers in Canada and United States would have to pay for the DRIC Boondoggle.
Politically, the Governerd has been isolated, even by his Canadian buddies who must have made the decision that he failed just as Jenny did, as the only one who thinks DRIC makes sense.
Just as importantly, I believe that the consultants who were retained on this DRIC project by the Governments need to seriously consider returning most of the money that they received as fees. After all, they were the experts. They were supposed to do a thorough study examining the various alternatives that could be used to make our border crossing work smoothly and efficiently.
Let’s be frank. Their solution was a second bridge in a location that does not make sense given all of the money that was spent on the Ambassador Gateway project and considering that the Gateway project was designed to accommodate a second Ambassador Bridge.
The logic that Windsor’s Sandwich area should not have to suffer anything but that the Delray community in Southwest Detroit should be destroyed by a DRIC bridge escapes me, Community Benefits Agreement or not.
In addition, their traffic projections were so off the mark that the volumes today are about 40% less than the peak in 1999/2000 and certainly nowhere close to where the experts projected them to be. Clearly, that means that the tolls would be insufficient to pay for the cost of any type of P3 project meaning that the DRIC bridge would not be financially viable.
I will say this and with all modesty and humility. I believe that it is only moi, the Blogmeister, who has stated time and time again that there is a better solution than the DRIC bridge and that would be less costly. But of course, as a mere lonely Blogger, I was consistently ignored so that Canada could almost destroy our relationship with the United States by making a fool of the United States, and in particular its Presidents, by trying to take over the Ambassador Bridge.
The answer was not provided by some nobodies but by Perrin Beatty, chief executive of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and by Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I would suggest that you take a look at their article, “A border that works,” in the National Post on December 3, 2011
The one thing that you will notice right off the bat is that building new bridges, especially in Windsor/Detroit, is nowhere to be found. Strange don’t you think.
If you do not believe by now that DRIC is dead, understand that this Article was written a few days before the Harper/Obama meeting to sign their multi-point border agreement. Clearly, the DRIC bridge is not on the US President’s agenda whatsoever. Now perhaps somebody in the traditional media in this area will finally reveal that there is no US Federal Government money for northern border crossings as the people in Sarnia/Port Huron and at the Peace Bridge already understand.
Here is how they identify the problem and what their proposed solution is:
“More trade crosses the border between Canada and the United States than any other national border on earth. Millions of Canadian and American jobs depend on the nearly half a trillion dollars in goods our countries exchange each year. Without a modern, efficient, smoothly functioning border that speeds commerce and travel while upholding our security, many of these jobs will be put at risk and we will squander new trade opportunities that lie before us.
Unfortunately, businesses on both sides point to the growing number of inspections, higher fees, longer wait times, and more infrastructure constraints. Security personnel, meanwhile, complain they don’t have the resources or funding to sufficiently staff the borders under the current policies, and they are rightly frustrated by the lack of technology being utilized.”
“The U.S. and Canadian chambers of commerce have clearly and consistently pressed leaders to provide the citizens and businesses of our nations a border that works – and they deserve nothing less. Our submission to the Beyond the Border Working Group over the summer outlined our proposals: enhance the benefits of trusted trader and traveller programs; eliminate hassles for business travellers; align and simplify customs procedures by expanding pre-clearance; modernize staffing models and business standards across government departments; and improve search and seizure capabilities to better protect intellectual property rights.”
To be blunt, the leaks that we are seeing in the media are very consistent with their proposed solution. There is nothing there that I saw that said spend the billions on new bridges and improvements in Detroit/Windsor or at the Peace Bridge or at the Blue Water Bridge. Rather, improve preclearance by moving Customs away from the border so that the actual border crossings will not be clogged up with vehicles thereby hampering trade and expand NEXUS and FAST.
I don’t believe that the price tag for this is multi-billions of dollars because if it was then there is no way that any Government would dare suggest that with the economy in such bad shape these days.
I will pat myself on the back because I have argued many times that technology would be the solution to our border issue not constructing a DRIC bridge. Take a look at this article that I wrote back in March of 2009 for example “Cow Bridge And US Customs”
At that time, I wrote the following:
“Finally, someone in authority did it. And it was a US Government person as well. Someone finally gave the reason why there is no need for a DRIC bridge at all, if there ever was one.
Do you remember the above video clip? One of my better BLOGs had to do with the second Cropsey hearings and the description of how the Ambassador Bridge changed over the years from being a bridge that could handle the passage of cows to the one handling the most traffic between Canada and the United States…
What has bothered me about the entire DRIC border discussion is the failure to recognize the significance of initiatives like removing Customs Clearance away from the border, pre-processing centres which have reduced the number of trucks going to secondary inspection dramatically, the FAST and NEXUS programs and the use of technology. There also seemed to be a failure to recognize until fairly recently that the issue with respect to the border is customs clearance and not more lanes across the River.
The obvious reason for not having a big discussion about all this is that all if all of these programs were instituted then there would hardly be the need for a new DRIC bridge. There would no longer be a need to build additional capacity even forgetting that the Ambassador Bridge is about 50% to 60% of capacity now. It is probably at the lower end of that range given the meltdown in the economy.
Why listen to me though, what do I know. Why listen to the Bridge Company who actually know how to operate a bridge, since they are obviously an interested party. Let us listen instead to Ron Smith, Michigan’s Chief of Customs and Border Protection. Presumably, he ought to know what he is talking about and should be unbiased.”
Had someone actually listened, we would not have to be talking about a border crisis and DRIC today. The Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project bridge would almost be ready for opening in this area. We would have had three years of time to tell the world that we are open for business with thousands of people fully employed working on the bridge project.
Those who have prevented our region from prospering ought to be named and condemned by the people in this region who have suffered so much.
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