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Windsor chamber asks feds for bridge help with truck backups into Canada
Posted on Wednesday, March 28 @ 21:48:39 CEST by admin

Trucking News
The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce is joining forces with the Ambassador Bridge Company in seeking federal help to relieve chronic truck congestion headed into Canada.
 

Bumper-to-bumper trucks enter Canada from Detroit via the Ambassador Bridge on March 23, 2018. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce is joining forces with the Ambassador Bridge Company in seeking federal help to relieve chronic truck congestion headed into Canada.

Chamber President and CEO Matt Marchand sent a letter Friday to Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, asking for a meeting in Ottawa.

Marchand also called on Goodale to “provide relief from the serious truck traffic backup problems by opening up the additional six lanes that were constructed by the bridge company in 2007.”

Officials with the bridge company wrote Goodale about the same issues in early February.

“Dan Stamper had written to the minister as well,” Marchand said in an interview Friday. “He asked for our help on the file.”

Among others, Marchand sent copies of the chamber’s letter to the CEOs of the provincial and national chambers of commerce, the Detroit and Sarnia chambers, as well as local MPs Tracey Ramsey and Brian Masse in an effort to mount a “collaborative” regional response.

“There continues to be ongoing, lengthy and costly backups emanating from the Canadian side of the border at the Ambassador Bridge,” the letter states. “In addition to the increased accident risk this is causing along I-75 in Detroit, and our responsibility as good neighbours not to do that, the cost of all this delay and uncertainty to our business community is huge.”

Barry Zekelman, chairman and CEO of the largest independent steel pipe and tube manufacturer in North America, also received a copy of Marchand’s correspondence.

“It’s an absolute disaster,” Zekelman said of the truck backlog into Canada. “I’ve been complaining about this for 15 years.

“It limits our ability to be competitive, it limits our ability to draw truckers to come over to pick up loads. It’s hurt our city. It’s hurt tourism. It’s hurt business. It’s an absolute catastrophe.”

Zekelman said delays getting trucks across the bridge into Canada cost Zekelman Industries between $3 million to $5 million annually.

The Ambassador Bridge handles 27 per cent of the $400 billion annual trade between Canada and the U.S. A typical weekday sees more than 10,000 commercial vehicles using the bridge.

Marchand has personally been caught in the stop-and-go conditions created by a long line of transports backed up on feeder highways leading to the plaza on the U.S. side.

“I can see it happening once in a while but it’s been pretty chronic lately,” Marchand said.

He said the problem lies with insufficient staffing at Canada customs.

“It appears that the staffing levels are just not there to support the volume of trade right now,” he said.

Stamper said the bridge company has been “hammering” on getting more customs booths opened for over a year.

“They have plenty of facilities for use they just don’t man them,” said Stamper who has had multiple meetings with the Canada Border Services Agency over backups created by truckers waiting to clear customs.

Stamper said the bridge company built a ramp and six additional truck lanes on the west side of the Canadian plaza “that have never been used.”

Not counting those six, 13 of the available 23 booths are dedicated to trucks.

“If they would open 13 lanes in the morning and keep them open there would never be a backup,” Stamper said.

Stamper noted that when extra staff was on duty at the bridge during a 10-day shutdown of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel last fall “we never had any backups.”

He said typically the number of open truck lanes drops to six or seven during the course of a day which then creates a huge backlog.

“They might open 13 in the afternoon but by then it takes hours to clear up,” Stamper said. “They do it every day.”

Stamper said accidents on I-75 caused by trucks at a standstill on U.S. freeways have resulted in injury and death. He emailed the Star a news account of a fatal collision from 2015 when a car ran into the back of a semi on northbound I-75 at the Clark Street exit that resulted in one death.

“It’s a crisis,” said Stamper who added it’s been created for political purposes to justify another bridge crossing.

“It feels to us like a punishment to travellers and consumers. They’ve got to have delays to justify the Gordie Howe Bridge,” Stamper said.

As Canada and the U.S. work on a new North American Free Trade Agreement, Marchand said it’s important to show the U.S. that the Canadian border can move product effectively.

“We need every booth open to demonstrate we’re good trading partners,” Marchand said. “We have to make sure we deliver on our end of the bargain.”

A spokesman for the Ontario Trucking Association said they’ve heard about more frequent delays from the folks at the Ambassador Bridge but “we haven’t had a ton of calls from our own membership.”

Attempts to reach the CBSA for comment were not successful.

Source of article click here : Windsor Star


 


 
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