Advertisement

Residents voice concerns over hazardous materials plan by Ambassador Bridge

Commercial trucks and passenger vehicles drive across Ambassador Bridge on the Canada-U.S. border in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Cole Burston/Bloomberg - image credit)
Commercial trucks and passenger vehicles drive across Ambassador Bridge on the Canada-U.S. border in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Cole Burston/Bloomberg - image credit)

Detroit resident Sam Butler says he thinks using the Ambassador Bridge to carry hazardous materials across the border and Detroit River is dangerous.

"This would needlessly put our community at undue risk," he said of Hubbard Richard, the neighbourhood where he lives close to the border crossing.

Butler was one of roughly 70 people who attended a public hearing Wednesday after a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) presentation.

At issue is an application put forward by the bridge company to allow corrosive and flammable materials trucked over the crossing.

Officials with the bridge argue it's safer for trucks to use a shorter route than to travel overland to the Bluewater Bridge connecting Sarnia and Port Huron, Mich., where the materials are allowed.

Tractor trailer traffic was backed up on Huron Church Road, which leads to the Ambassador Bridge, on Aug. 30, 2023.
Tractor trailer traffic was backed up on Huron Church Road, which leads to the Ambassador Bridge, on Aug. 30, 2023.

Tractor trailer traffic was backed up on Huron Church Road, which leads to the Ambassador Bridge, on Aug. 30, 2023. (Dax Melmer/CBC)

Butler said with the Gordie Howe bridge expected to open late next year it makes even less sense to allow the Ambassador Bridge to carry these materials, given the Gordie Howe's span will be capable of handling hazardous materials.

"If allowed to pass, it would route trucks along tight turns within the customs plaza," he said. "Tight turns where a truck tips over have been previously reported … and those turns and the customs plaza are directly adjacent to occupied homes."

Ontario truckers against idea of escort vehicles

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) said while it supports the removal of restrictions on hazardous materials going across the bridge it does not embrace the proposed use of escort vehicles at "high-volume ports of entry."

"Escort vehicles are not used to move these commodities at other high-volume ports of entry, and there are thousands of these shipments that move safely across the border daily, so we strongly encourage MDOT to consider revising the proposal," said Geoff Wood, senior vice president with OTA, in a statement.

"We do not feel that it's necessary."

Geoff Wood is the Senior Vice President of Policy with the Ontario Trucking Association. His organization has concerns with using the registered gross vehicle weight to ban trucks from city streets, noting the threshold is too low.
Geoff Wood is the Senior Vice President of Policy with the Ontario Trucking Association. His organization has concerns with using the registered gross vehicle weight to ban trucks from city streets, noting the threshold is too low.

Geoff Wood is the senior vice president with the Ontario Trucking Association. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

While other truck companies spoke in favour of the move, Michigan trucker Ryan Stewart had previously told CBC News he wasn't in favour of the bridge being used to carry potentially dangerous materials.

"Being the busiest border crossing between Canada and the USA, having that damaged or eliminated would be very, very detrimental," said the Lake Orion, Mich., resident.

Ryan Stewart is a trucker from Lake Orion, Michigan.
Ryan Stewart is a trucker from Lake Orion, Michigan.

Ryan Stewart is a trucker from Lake Orion, Michigan. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

MDOT's public opinion online form will remain available until the end of March.

Jocelyn Garza with MDOT's communications department said a final decision isn't expected until 2025.