Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coalition touts new Detroit River tunnel

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Canadian Pacific has joined the Windsor Port Authority and Borealis Infrastructure, a division of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, in forming the Continental Rail Gateway coalition (CRG) to promote the development, funding, and construction of a replacement rail tunnel under the Detroit River.

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“The current freight tunnel, which carries approximately 350,000 rail cars each year, opened in 1909 and remains in excellent condition,” the coalition said in a statement Thursday. “However, it cannot handle double-stacked, nine-foot, six-inch 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.”

The coalition said that replacing the 100-year-old tunnel “is a key step toward making the strategically located region ofWindsor/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.”

Earlier this month, a project description was submitted to Transport Canada in compliance with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). The coalition said 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.