Windsor continues to fight hazmat transport changes requested for Ambassador Bridge

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Ambassador Bridge
Similar requests from The Detroit International Bridge Co. to lift Class 3 (flammable liquids) and Class 8 (corrosive substances) restrictions were made in 2013 and 2020, at which time Windsor officials also submitted letters to voice opposition to the changes. Photo Credit: Nicholas Letarte/Wirestock, stock.adobe.com

While the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge at the Windsor-Detroit border have gained support from Detroit lawmakers to allow new classes of hazardous materials to cross, Windsor’s city council says the nearly century-old bridge was not designed to withstand the effects of a potential hazmat incident.  

Similar requests from The Detroit International Bridge Co. to lift Class 3 (flammable liquids) and Class 8 (corrosive substances) restrictions were made in 2013 and 2020, at which time Windsor officials also submitted letters to voice opposition to the changes. 

“As concluded in previous years, administration has affirmed that lifting the current hazardous materials restrictions will result in an increased risk to commercial trade between Canada and the United States and for the residents of the City of Windsor,” Windsor city council heard in a December staff report. 

Windsor city council said it plans to write a new letter to the Michigan Department of Transportation, urging them to reject the latest application, which has the support of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and more than 30 state and local elected officials.   

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A press release from The Detroit International Bridge Co. says allowing Class 3 substances like gasoline and diesel fuel to cross the bridge will enable trucks to avoid the trip to Port Huron, eliminating long distances of travel and risks of spills. 

The Ambassador Bridge currently allows some Class 2 gases, flammable solids, oxidizing substances, poisonous and infectious substances, as well as miscellaneous dangerous goods for transport. 

Windsor officials said they are unaware of appropriate drainage systems for the bridge that would be capable of mitigating the hazards associated with unchecked runoff in the event of a spill on the Ambassador Bridge.  

Windsor city council also noted that the new Gordie Howe International Bridge is expected to open for business in 2025 just 3.2 km away from the Ambassador Bridge. 

“This crossing will be built to modern standards and will be able to withstand an emergency involving dangerous and hazardous goods,” the council report states. 

A Michigan Department of Transportation public hearing will take place on March 20 to discuss the latest request to alter the bridge’s transport classifications. 

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