(WINDSOR, ON) – According to the Council of the Great Lakes Region there is a need for an integrated transportation strategy in the bi-national Great Lakes – St Lawrence region. Without it, the region’s economic resiliency could be threatened.
This is the gist of a new CGLR study which points out passenger and freight integration and adaptability are needed to face the unknowns of climate impacts, technology disruption, and changing trade patterns. The solution is the integration of freight and passenger transportation systems on both sides of the border.
The report is part of a research project to support the region’s first-ever multimodal transportation vision and strategy. This strategy will be released at the Council’s third annual Great Lakes Economic Forum scheduled for Detroit and Windsor, April 24 through 26.
“Most Great Lakes states and provinces, as well as the US and Canadian federal governments, have developed long-range transportation plans and modal plans to support their growth and key cross-border trade corridors,” said Mark Fisher, CGLR’s chief executive. “What’s lacking is meaningful integration of these systems across the region, including passenger and freight transportation priorities.”
The Council’s study seeks to address a, “… critical policy gap.”
It explains this gap will impact the region’s bi-national economy, which covers eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces with 105 million people and an economic activity of almost $6 trillion annually.
The region’s multimodal transportation system is central to economic competitiveness and prosperity. The system includes an extensive network of highways, regional and urban roads, railroads and rail terminals, airports, marine ports and inland waterways, pipelines, and transit infrastructure and related services.
“The efficient movement of people and goods facilitates tourism and trade and is vital to the economic growth of our Great Lakes region,” said Howard Eng, chief executive of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. For its part, Eng says Toronto Pearson has proposed a Regional Transit Centre that will connect the region to the world through improved transit and reduced traffic on the roads.
To date, regional transportation strategies and plans have largely focused on linear trends and projections. Given current growing pressures on transportation systems from capacity constraints, aging or inadequate infrastructure, outdated regulations, climate change, institutional and regulatory fragmentation, technology, and changing trade patterns, a different approach is required.
This new approach is needed to improve system performance and make it more resilient and adaptable to an unknown future.
“To meet tomorrow’s challenge of moving goods and people in an increasingly congested region, we need to do things differently than we do today,” said Ian Hamilton, chief executive of the Hamilton Port Authority. His organization believes the region’s ports and waterways could benefit from an overall, “… better use of the marine mode to increase transportation efficiency in the Great Lakes region. Governments and industries need the will to make it happen, and a strategy that shows the way forward.”
This study was made possible with financial support of Canadian National Railway, the Hamilton Port Authority, and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
The non-partisan, non-profit, binational Council was formed and is deepening the United States-Canada relationship in the Great Lakes – St Lawrence region, and endeavouring to create a stronger dynamic culture of collaboration in harnessing the region’s economic strengths, while enhancing the well-being of its citizens and protecting the environment for future generations.