MASSE LETTER TO MDOT CONDEMNING RECOMMENDATION TO ALLOW HAZMAT FREIGHT ON AMBASSADOR BRIDGE

May 23, 2013

 

Bob Parsons

Public Involvement and Hearings Officer

MDOT Bureau of Highways

PO Box 30050

Lansing MI

48909

 

Re:      MDOT proposed changes to hazardous materials routing designations in Detroit (Wayne County)

 

Dear Mr. Parsons

 

I am writing today to express my deep concern with the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) recommendation to allow some vehicles transporting Non-Radioactive Hazardous Materials onto the Ambassador Bridge.  I am the Member of Parliament representing the riding of Windsor West which is the electoral district that encompasses the crossing in question.

 

I am not convinced substantive policy change is warranted at this time with respect to the cross border transport of hazardous materials given our current capacity for the following reasons:

  • Our existing capacity for hazardous materials freight is safely and efficiently meeting the current needs.
  • I am apprised that a comprehensive public safety analysis has not been vetted in consultation with key stakeholders prior to the drafting of this report. 
  • Allowing Hazmat freight onto the Ambassador Bridge will increase the flow of international freight traffic through a densely populated urban environment in my community.
  • The specific recommendation may in fact reduce efficiency at the Windsor-Detroit border.

 

As you are aware hazardous material carriers crossing the international border in the Windsor-Detroit corridor are required to use the Detroit-Windsor Truck ferry.  This operation has provided effective and safe service for the community while meeting the logistics needs of the North American economy for over 20 years.  Additionally the service provided by the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry operation is highly specialized—they are experts in the cross border transportation of HazMat freight in our region.  Their inspection regime is robust and their safety record is unassailable.  In over 20 year of moving HazMat freight over our shared waterway, it is my understanding that the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry has operated incident free.

 

I am also very troubled by the fact that the Windsor Fire Department was not consulted to provide any public safety risk analysis with respect to MDOT’s proposal prior to the drafting of MDOT’s recommendation.  This fact alone is a glaring deficiency in the report and is enough to rationalize a complete dismissal of the recommendations developed from this incomplete report.

 

Furthermore, I am very concerned about how the implementation of these recommendations may impact the flows of traffic on Windsor’s west side.  Traffic volume is already a major problem through the corridor in question.  Introducing additional international hazmat freight through a densely populated section of Windsor in close proximity schools, community centres, seniors’ residences and major shopping hubs may introduce unnecessary risks to the community.

 

It’s worth noting that the proposal itself may reduce the overall efficiency of operations at the border.  Allowing hazardous materials to cross the Ambassador Bridge under escort (as per MDOT’s recommendation) will increase traffic on an already congested border crossing.  Furthermore the caravan created by this escort proposal will have an added and potentially negative impact on traffic flows.

 

In addition to the impact on traffic flows during normal operations those impacts could be devastating on numerous fronts in the event of an incident.  The risks for users of the crossing as well as workers and first responders are potentially substantial.  Moreover the economic impact of potentially lengthy delays due through this crossing as a result of a hazmat incident could be enormous.  Studies indicate that a simple 15 minute delay of traffic crossing the Ambassador Bridge can cost the North American economy $1M (CAD).

 

I hope you will give these concerns their due consideration.  I can also apprise you my constituents have expressed concerns about the recommendations in the MDOT report.

 

Best Regards,

 

Brian Masse M.P.

Windsor West

 

           

c.c.      Hon. Denis Lebel—Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities

            Hon. Glen Murray—Minister of Transportation (Ontario)

Mayor Eddie Francis—City of Windsor