Posts Tagged ‘DRIC’

Bicycling between Detroit and Windsor by bridge & ferry

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The push continues for a means of getting bicyclists between Detroit and Windsor. The two preferred routes are a planned ferry service and the new bridge.

On September 14th, cycling advocates from Windsor and Detroit helped kick off a Share the Bridge campaign. Their focus is to ensure bike access on the New International Trading Crossing (NITC) being promoted by Canada, the state of Michigan, and others. According to Member of Parliament Brian Masse:

“People want the new crossing to be an asset for the community as well as for the North American economy. By investing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure on the new crossing we will create a signature feature that can have economic, environmental and cultural benefits for the region.”

A press conference was held along the Windsor side of the Detroit River. Masse led the event where he stressed the need for cycling advocates to make this happen. An excellent video from the event has been uploaded with this quote from Masse:

“We get one chance at this border crossing to do it right, and we don’t want to be like the other communities out there that are having to fight to go back and rework things.”

State Representative Rashida Tlaib of Detroit was also there with many other political and cycling supporters.

This event was covered by the Windsor Star, CBC, and OurWindsor.

The campaign asks not only for bicycling access on the bridge, but proper connections to the greenways planned on both sides of the border. Those connections are planned on the U.S. side but not on the Canadian side.

U.S. bridge plans

We’d written about this last December and even showed a bridge cross section design. It appears we were looking an alternative design. The final design has two 10-foot shoulders for bicyclists and a separated 5-foot sidewalk for pedestrians — or less confident bicyclists.

This design is what was in the Bridge Type Study Report and Conceptual Engineering Report. Both documents are referenced in the final Record of Decision and recently submitted Presidential Permit application.

We’ve asked for MDOT’s commitment to these plans, but they are unable to directly address them. Governor’s Rick Synder’s office is handling the project communications.

The Canadians are still unsure of Transport Canada’s commitment.

Will these U.S. plans coerce the Canadians into supporting bicyclists? No one seems to know.

Detroit River ferry service

Masse also visited the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority in August. His mission was to ensure that Canadian Customs could use this facility for the ferry service. Under this scenario, both customs would be on the U.S. side as is done elsewhere on the border.

The Windsor Star created a couple videos of the event.

The second video is of Steven Olinek, deputy director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority.

Biking the bridge(s) between Detroit and Windsor

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The proposed New Internationals Trade Crossing (NITC) bridge moved closer to reality this past week.

From Crain’s Detroit Business:

At a press conference at the Hilton in downtown Windsor, Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a joint effort to build the $2.1 billion New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

The project could start in 2013 or 2014, and work is expected to take at least four years.

This was a big deal. Even U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was present. He talked about it on his blog.

As everyone who has worked so hard to make this project happen knows, the new crossing will be much more than a road across the Detroit River. With jobs and economic growth, both of our countries will prosper from the new connection.

Neither LaHood nor Snyder made a comment about biking across the new bridge, but that is in the design plans as we noted back in December.

Bike the Ambassador Bridge

The annual Bike the Bridge event was also this past weekend. The Windsor Star covered the event and included these comments from Windsor City Councilor Halberstadt:

Ward 3 Coun. Alan Halberstadt, who sits on the Windsor Bicycling Committee, said part of the purpose of the annual event is to raise awareness that a bike connection is needed across the border. He said they will be pushing to have a bike route added to the existing Ambassador Bridge or included in plans for the new bridge.

“It just makes sense. Cycling is becoming more and more popular for health and economic reasons and it’s a great tourism attraction to have Americans come over here,” said Halberstadt.

Biking and walking on the new Detroit bridge?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Governor Rick Synder continues to push forward on the New International Trade Crossing (NITC) bridge between Detroit and Windsor. Given the apparent lack of support within his own party, the governor may now “go it alone” according to the Detroit Free Press.

One question we hear often is will the new bridge allow bicyclists and pedestrians along with motor vehicles?

But first, let’s mention that the Ambassador Bridge used to allow both on a narrow sidewalk — a sidewalk that is no longer there after the most recent re-decking. Without access to the Tunnel or operating ferry service, bicyclists have no convenient means to cross between the two countries. (Pedestrians can use the Tunnel Bus.) Could the NITC be an answer?

No one knows for certain whether we’ll get bicycles on the NITC as of today, but here’s what the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) says:

The new bridge over the Detroit River and the plaza will be engineered to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its Canadian counterpart (Customs and Border Services Agency) will determine whether this traffic is allowed. All facilities will be designed to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This will include sidewalks along the roads to be repaved as part of the project. This will be an upgrade at many facilities as they were built before the ADA requirements were established.

“Engineered to accomodate” is further defined in the 2008 Bridge Structure Study:

Initially, the section consists of three lanes in each direction, with a 1m flush median between travel directions and 3m outside shoulders. A sidewalk is only currently required on the U.S. bound approach to the toll and inspection plaza. This sidewalk is separated from the shoulder with a traffic barrier. A 1.066m metal railing provides fall protection on the outside of the sidewalk.

The designs show this sidewalk is 5.2 feet wide and more like a shared-use path. And having this path on the U.S. bound is smart since bikes and pedestrians will have the best views of both downtown skylines.

There are also 10 foot shoulders on both sides of the bridge.

The bad news? The Study says that if there’s increased motorized traffic, the path would be removed and the shoulders narrowed in order to add more lanes. However, we doubt traffic demands would necessitate that.

This brings up another question. would they allow a cyclist without a passport to pay the bridge toll, bike to the middle of the bridge, enjoy the view, then return back to their respective county?

MTGA Comments

During the FEIS process, the Michigan Trails and Greenways made these comments and received MDOT responses.

MTGA Comment MDOT Response
Which AASHTO bicycle facility type would be used [on the new Detroit River bridge], bike lanes or shared lanes The commenter is referred to the “Detroit River International Crossing Study, Bridge-Type Study Report,” dated January 2007, Revised July 2007. This document is on the project Web site (www.partnershipborder under U.S. Reports, Bridge Type Study Report. It discusses bike lane options (pages 3 and 29). A final decision on the bicycle treatment will be made in the design phase
The report does not address bicycling access from the bridge to the processing area to local surface streets. Shared pathways would likely be acceptable for these connections but not narrow sidewalks per AASHTO’s Guide for the Development of Bicycling Facilities. The accommodation for bicycles on the new river bridge is likely to be the right shoulder. When exiting the bridge, a bicyclist would remain to the right of traffic and proceed to a separate building near the primary processing booths for vehicles. After processing, there would be an exit to Jefferson Avenue. All of this is subject to the determination of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its Canadian counterpart to allow bicycle use of the new Detroit River bridge.
the FEIS. . . does not mention the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, Southwest Detroit greenways, and Fort Street Greenway projects. These project should not be negatively impacted by the DRIC. MDOT will investigate ways to integrate these projects.
It appears the FEIS does not analyze the DRIC impact on the Detroit Non-motorized Transportation Master Plan . . . Any local road reconstruction that has been identified as a bike route should be rebuilt to accommodate bikes per the plan. MDOT will investigate ways to integrate these projects.
The AASHTO U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) has a designated corridor (Route 25) that includes the DRIC. Though the road route has not yet been set, it is likely to follow Fort Street or Jefferson Avenue. It is important that nay DRIC plan consider bicycling access?between this route and the new bridge. This connecting to Canada would be an invaluable addition to the Bicycle Route System MDOT will investigate ways to integrate these projects.
The cities of Detroit and Windsor are actively pursuing improved nonmotorized transportation and greenway trail networks. Connecting these two systems would bring a unique and significant benefit to the Metro Detroit and Windsor communities Comment acknowledged. As noted in the FEIS Section, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, along with its Canadian counterpart, will determine whether pedestrian and bicycle traffic is allowed on the new Detroit River bridge

Similar comments were made during the Canadian Environmental Assessment process, however they do not appear to have published written responses.

Natural Resources Trust Fund: applauded and attacked

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gave a state of the state address tonight that touched on issues related to biking in Michigan, including this:

“I urge the prompt passage of a capital outlay bill that implements the recommendations of the Natural Resources Trust Fund. From the greatness of the land and the resourcefulness of the citizens of the Upper Peninsula to the unquestioned beauty and economic engine as our Great Lakes, natural resources and recreation have always been among our strongest areas. The Fund’s board of trustees has recommended 117 recreation and land acquisition projects totaling more than $100 million. These projects will positively impact every corner of our state from Iron County in the Upper Peninsula to Traverse City to Luna Pier in Monroe County. Also included is a significant expansion of the William G. Milliken Park on the Detroit Riverfront.”

That is excellent to hear and very welcomed. And it was good to see the bipartisan standing ovation it received.

However, it was just last Thursday when West Michigan legislators introduced bills (HB 4021HB 4028HJR B) that would raid the Natural Resources Trust Fund. It would divert upwards of 80% of its annual revenues. Twenty percent of the diverted funds would go towards the State Aeronautics Fund while the remainder would go to the Michigan Transportation Fund.

The intent of this Trust Fund is to take revenues from irreplaceable natural resources extracted from public lands and make longterm investments in new public lands and parks. This proposed Trust Fund raid would put most of the money into airports and road projects.

Having a deja vu? Yes, these same bills were introduced in the last session. They died in committee. It’s difficult to say if these bills will move further along given the new Republican control of the House.

Other items in the state of the state

The Governor said the state should reward municipalities that consolidate and share services. Does this mean they would provide incentives for counties governments to absorb their road commissions? Not sure.

It was great to hear the Governor promote wellness.

“We will look to build a system that encourages all of us to have an annual physical, reduce obesity and encourage a healthier, active lifestyle in our state”

As someone noted on Twitter, Complete Streets would help.

And lastly Snyder  threw his support behind the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC). The DRIC’s current plans are to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. This could be one option for getting between Canada and the U.S.

Canada wants this new bridge so badly that they’ve agreed to cover Michigan’s capital investment. Canada’s loan would be paid back through bridge tolls.

The big news is the Federal Highway Administration has agreed to count this loan as Michigan’s match for federal transportation dollars. Without match dollars, the state could lose millions in road funding. This appears to be a huge win which removes some pressure to find transportation money in other places.

Like the Trust Fund.

New Bridge inches forward

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

We previously discussed the plans for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) bridge and whether it will accommodate bicycling.

Yesterday, the Federal Highway Administration made the following announcement:

Plans to build a second border crossing between Michigan and Ontario have received the necessary environmental approvals from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The “record of decision” (ROD), signed today by U.S. officials, represents the Detroit River International Crossing’s (DRIC) final environmental clearance and allows Michigan to begin right-of-way acquisition and construction planning for the bridge.

If completed, the project – including a plaza where tolls and U.S. border inspection activities will occur, and an interchange connecting it to I-75 – would span nearly seven miles. Under current estimates, the new crossing is expected to be open to traffic in 2013.

Prior to this announcement, MTGA and other groups (including the Detroit Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability) submitted comments that encouraged biking and walking on the bridge.

These comments generally asked:

  • How does this project positively impact Detroit greenways and the City’s non-motorized plan?
  • How does the bridge accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians?

MTGA comments noted that not all of the greenways in the DRIC’s vicinity were included, nor was there any mention of Detroit’s non-motorized plan.  MDOT said they “will investigate ways to integrate these projects.”

MTGA also asked for clarification on how bicycle would be routed on the bridge.  (There is a sidewalk planned for pedestrians.)  MDOT  responded:

The accommodation for bicycles on the new river bridge is likely to be the right shoulder. When exiting the bridge, a bicyclist would remain to the right of traffic and proceed to a separate building near the primary processing booths for vehicles. After processing, there would be an exit to Jefferson Avenue. All of this is subject to the determination of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its Canadian counterpart to allow bicycle use of the new Detroit River bridge.

That last statement could be a deal killer, though it’s difficult to imagine how a bicycle could be any more of a threat than a car or truck.

Still,  it may make sense to involve folks like Senator Carl Levin early on.  Senator Levin has been a major supporter of the Detroit Riverwalk and there’s every reason to believe he would go to bat for allowing bicycling across the bridge.