The southwest Detroit community is celebrating an important milestone that will significantly reduce pollution, noise and vibrations in the neighborhoods surrounding the Ambassador Bridge.
After concerted legal, political and community pressure, the long-promised direct access route connecting trucks bound from Canada to I-75 and I-96 is completed and open, keeping thousands of trucks a day off the local streets.
“The people here have lived long enough with trucks going through their neighborhood and harming their quality of life,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley at a press conference near the new two-lane access route, which opened Monday (May 14, 2012) afternoon.
The access route was planned back in 1995 as part of the $230M Gateway project, but the Bridge Company refused to honor its responsibility to construct the route, resulting in a protracted legal battle with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other authorities. Then, on March 8, 2012, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards ordered the Bridge Company to permit MDOT to take over building the access route. The Bridge Company was also ordered to provide $16M to fund the construction.
MDOT completed the access route in only five weeks. First, MDOT had to demolish controversial Pier 19, the infamous “ramp to nowhere” that was built by the Bridge Company to support its designs for a second span, which is not sanctioned by American and Canadian authorities.
“It is simply amazing that two months after Judge Edwards’ decision, truck traffic is using the plaza and not the local road system,” said State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle.
Now that the direct access route for US-bound truck traffic is done, MDOT will realign access roads for Canada-bound commercial traffic, further reducing truck congestion in the neighborhood. This work will be completed by October.
“For the trucking companies, all this means easier access to the freeways and faster delivery of goods; and for our local business community, it’s a more efficient border that provides economic stability,” said State Representative Rashida Tlaib at the press conference. “For the families in our community, it means less asthma among our children and safer play areas for our kids. It means that children at nearby schools don’t have to dodge trucks. It means we have our neighborhood back!”
The new direct access routes are certainly important for the health and wellbeing of southwest Detroit residents.
“The loudest noise I have ever heard was the silence yesterday,” wrote Dean Simmer on The Gateway Project Facebook page hours after the access route opened. “I have never known Corktown without trucks on the streets. Incredible.”