Posts Tagged ‘NITC’

Governor Rick Snyder: Bikes the talk in Detroit

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

At yesterday’s groundbreaking, George Jackson of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation spoke of his appreciation for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. “He walks the talk.” Jackson said.

This day would be different.

As the governor noted later, today he would bike the talk — on the Dequindre Cut from Milliken State Park to Eastern Market — on a bike rented from the Wheelhouse Detroit.

I had the opportunity to give a Detroit Greenways button to the Governor, which he prompted pin to his jacket. We also discussed the Dequindre Cut and biking in Detroit. He asked if there were other places to ride in the city and if there was a bike map. I noted that we’re working on some maps now and that Detroit is among the nation’s most bike friendly due to the overbuilt road network.

I also spoke with him about the New International Trade Crossing. I asked if he would work with us to make sure the constructed bridge includes the paved shoulders (for bicyclists) and sidewalk that are in the approved current design — and encourage the Canadians to do the same. He sounded quite positive and asked me to contact his office with the details.

Milliken Park expansion

Governor Snyder was in Detroit for the groundbreaking of the Globe Trading Building. This historic structure will become the DNR’s Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center.

“The Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center project is an exciting next step in fulfilling a vision for Detroit’s Riverfront and serves as a shining example of what city and state, public and private partnerships and collaboration can achieve,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This is what place making is all about. And the project will help generate additional economic development and neighborhood revitalization that are core to Detroit’s and Michigan’s comeback.”

“The goal of everyone involved in this venture is to create a downtown destination where people living in or visiting an urban area can experience the adventure and excitement of Michigan’s great outdoors, gain confidence in participating in outdoor recreation activities, and understand more about protecting our state’s unique natural resources,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We feel the Globe Building project provides the right hub for outdoor experiences and fits that niche perfectly.”

This is going to be a tremendous asset at the intersection of two great greenways: the Dequindre Cut and Detroit RiverWalk.

During the 2011 RiverDays event, someone asked me when the city was going to tear down that old brick building. I promptly responded and told him about the DNR’s plans to revitalize it. They didn’t believe me. I recalled that transaction as the Governor spoke yesterday.

From the Detroit News:

“I want everyone to remember what that looks like today,” said Snyder during a press conference at Milliken State Park, gesturing across the street to the abandoned warehouse. “So when we come back and see what it looks like, we can see what the power of working together can do and the opportunity to reinvent Michigan and the opportunity to reinvent Detroit.”

The Free Press also published this article on the event and building.

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.

 

Detroit River ferry would help cyclists cross the border

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Detroit River ferry service was back in the news last week – the Windsor news that is.

This CBC video and article provide a good background on where we stand with ferry service, including its potential to help bicycle tourism.

Gord Orr with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island said the idea holds great promise.

“The potential of the bicycle tourism part of it is very exciting as we start to look at more trails and routes and see how we can increase more of that healthy lifestyle,” Orr said.

We agree. We need to connect the Detroit RiverWalk and Windsor River trail, as well as provide a crossing for the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route and future U.S. Bicycle Routes.

The CBC ran a similar article that spoke with MP Brian Masse of the Canadian Parliament.

“To me, this would be an exciting opportunity to put pedestrians and cyclists back and forth along the water,” Masse said. “Detroit has a marvellous waterfront now. They’ve worked hard on it and need to be commended for it. Ours, of course, is really nice and has been remodelled recently. This could be an exciting time to share both of our cultures again.”

The Windsor Star also chimed in with an article that also quoted Orr.

“I think that allowing passenger travel on ferry and bicycles included would also help the interest in cycle tourism. We have a number of trails to be enjoyed by cycle tourists and obviously this would eliminate the hassle of parking, crossing an international border at the tunnel or the bridge.”

It sounds like we’ve got the message out about the importance of this crossing, at least on the Canadian side.

What about the new bridge?

Progress continues to be made on a new Detroit/Windsor bridge – the NITC.

As mentioned earlier, the plans call for a bicycle/pedestrian path on one side of the bridge. We spoke with State Representative Rashida Talib. She said that if it’s in there, it’s unlikely MDOT can renege.

On the Windsor side, bicycle advocates are now making sure Canadian Customs is prepared to handle bike and pedestrian traffic. They also want to ensure their new greenways connect with the bridge. MTGA submitted comments to U.S. and Canadian officials asking that greenways are connected to the bridge.

Do cyclists need a bridge and ferry service? We think so. The bridge would be a 24/7 option, but it comes with a steep price – a steep climb. It’s also located a short distance away from the riverfront trails and downtowns. Ferry service would be more centrally located and you’d only have to climb on board a boat. However, ferry service might not be available year round. The bridge would also provide some amazing views.

Bridge path a greenway?

Also, one suggestion is to create a name for this trail connecting Detroit and Windsor. Something like the International Freedom Trail sounds much better than just calling it the bike path on the bridge. Who could be against a trail with a name like that?

Or can you think of a better name?

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.