Negotiations for new Ambassador Bridge truck plaza in Sandwich Town 'very much a live issue'
When the permit to construct a replacement span for the Ambassador Bridge expired in the summer of 2022, many thought that would bring an end to a 20-year saga of boarded up homes in the city’s west end.
Work to fix the aging bridge has been ongoing for years and is almost complete, extending the life of the Ambassador Bridge for decades to come.
“They've stated publicly several times unequivocally that they are not interested in a replacement span at this time,” said Fabio Costante, the city’s Ward 2 councillor.
He was among the people who believed the expired bridge permit meant the secondary truck inspection plaza next to the bridge wasn’t moving forward, either.
But that’s not entirely the case.
“The permit was predicated on the designs and plans submitted with the initial application,” said city solicitor, Shelby Askin Hager, who confirmed what Costante wanted to be public knowledge, that work to build a new truck inspection plaza next to the Ambassador Bridge is indeed progressing, with multiple sources confirming this week that negotiations are ongoing between the Canadian Transit Company (CTC), the federal government and the City of Windsor.
The new plaza would be just west of the Ambassador Bridge and would replace the existing inspection facility two kilometres down the road on Industrial Drive.
A conceptual drawing of the new truck inspection plaza in Sandwich Town. (Source: TCI Titan Group)
“That is very much a live issue in our community,” said Costante. “The overarching position of the CBSA and the federal government is we need something closer to the foot of the bridge mainly for security purposes.”
TCI Titan owner Art Usoletti confirmed with CTV Windsor that a contract for his company to build the new plaza and structures remains in place once negotiations are complete and the government gives the green light.
All of the properties needed to move forward with the plaza are now owned by the Canadian Transit Company.
The nature of the talks with the city are to secure conditions that will benefit the City of Windsor and especially, residents of Sandwich Town, Costante said.
“This has been a long 20-year issue. And it's one of the greatest injustices in our city, in my view,” said Costante.
According to Transport Canada, unlike the new span permit — which expired in August 2022 — “the alteration of the new CBSA facilities is open-ended” and has 10 conditions, including the relocation and construction of a new fire hall to the west of the bridge and the conveyance of some local roads.
In a statement, Transport Canada spokesperson Nadine Ramadan said: “The Minister of Transport has written to CTC to determine if the expiration of the bridge replacement approval has impacted or modified the construction plans of customs facilities project. He also encouraged the CTC to finalize an agreement with the City of Windsor in order to satisfy the pre-construction conditions.”
But another condition Costante is seeking is an end to the boarded up homes that have been an eye-sore, eroding the quality of life for west-end residents for decades.
Other than boarded up homes on Indian Road, many of these homes on Edison Street and other nearby streets fall outside the plaza site.
“I'm hopeful that as part of the discussions as we move forward, those homes are absolutely included because they are integral to the rebirth of the sandwich neighborhood and quality of life for a lot of residents and sandwich,” said Costante.
It’s believed negotiations are progressing regularly and an agreement could be reached sometime this year.
The Canadian Transit Company did not respond to a request for comment.
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