Windsor Port Authority, Canadian Pacific and Borealis Become Partners in Public Private Coalition

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A high-clearance replacement rail tunnel under the Detroit River will let double-stacked container trains use the corridor linking the Port of Montreal with Windsor, Detroit and Chicago. This is a key step toward making the strategically located border region a logistics hub for manufacturers, agricultural shippers, and other importers and exporters.

The Windsor Port Authority, along with Borealis Infrastructure, a division of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), and Canadian Pacific (CP) have formed the Continental Rail Gateway coalition (CRG) to pursue opportunities for the development, funding and construction of a replacement rail tunnel under the Detroit River.

The current freight tunnel, which carries approximately 350,000 rail cars each year, opened in 1909 and remains in excellent condition. However, it cannot handle double-stacked, nine-foot, six-inch (9’ 6”) containers and some new generations of multilevel rail cars used by shippers and auto manufacturers. The tunnel clearance was enlarged once in 1994 and can’t be further expanded.

Replacing the 100-year-old train tunnel is a key step toward making the strategically located region of Windsor/Essex County/Detroit/Wayne County more competitive as a logistics hub for manufacturers, agricultural shippers, and other importers and exporters. The high-clearance replacement rail tunnel will allow double-stacked container trains out of the Port of Montreal to use the Montreal/Windsor/ Detroit/Chicago corridor. This is important to the region because the Port of Montreal plans to double its container-handling capacity over the next ten years.

The project is expected to create over 2,200 direct and indirect jobs over the duration of the development and construction, and be completed within three years after environmental approvals.

Earlier this month, the Project Description for the CRG was submitted to Transport Canada as the first formal document submitted under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). In addition, work with U.S. regulators will continue on environmental reviews that began in 2009 with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Government and business leaders have committed to the vision of realistic, cross-border cooperation outlined at a HUB '09 conference in Windsor last year," says David Cree, president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority. "This new cooperative agreement fortifies the goals we discussed. A larger replacement rail tunnel is critical to creating jobs and turning Windsor-Detroit into one of the most significant logistics hubs in the Midwest."

Speaking on behalf of CRG, Marge Byington says, "A cross-border approach to regional economic development is long overdue. This agreement reflects the close ties between the United States and its largest trading partner, as well as the shared interests of rail and port operators."

Each coalition member in the Continental Rail Gateway will work actively to raise awareness of the international replacement rail tunnel project’s value among elected officials, transportation agency administrators, business leaders and others on each side of the Detroit River.    

More information is available at http://www.crgateway.com

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Bill Muir
Continental Rail Gateway
(248) 269-4366
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