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OTA pumped at $1B federal bridge pledge & green cash

TORONTO – Yesterday's federal budget was more or less a reaffirmation of promises the Harper government made in the March budget speech, but the Ontario Trucking Association was nonetheless buoyant over the details.

Particularily, the OTA welcomed Ottawa's recommitment to the new Windsor-Detroit crossing project.

"The $1 billion re-commitment announcement in the budget was not surprising but it was still good news," said OTA Senior VP Stephen Laskowski.

The budget allocates $1 billion for up to 50 percent of the cost to construct the bridge.

With Michigan's vote to accept Canada's $500 million offer and enable construction is still pending, the announcement is a clear signal that the Canadian government's commitment to the new crossing has not wavered.

"It's clear that the Government is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to the new Windsor-Detroit crossing," Laskowski said. "Hopefully this budget commitment will help the efforts in Lansing by Governor Rick Snyder to get the Michigan Legislature to finally move forward on this important project."

On the environmental front, however, the OTA did say the trucking industry should receive the lion's share of the $48 million dollars allocated in the federal budget for development of green transportation regulations and initiatives.

The budget did not provide details of how the funds would be spent, or how they would be divided amongst the modes, but the OTA and Canadian Trucking Alliance are stressing that it'll be best spent on stimulating investment on things like enviroTruck, a concept which spec's fuel economy technologies and devices on trucks and trailers.

CTA says the enviroTruck concept "supplements and complement" the government’s proposed fuel economy/GHG reduction standards for heavy trucks.

"The pay-back from such a program would be increased GHG reduction compared to what would be achievable through the proposed regulation on its own and the environmental benefits would accrue to Canadians at an accelerated pace," says CTA-OTA's David Bradley.

CTA speculates that measure might also include incentives for "next generation" clean engine technologies and fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diesel electric hybrids.

Meanehile, the budget also contained funding announcements on a number of transportation infrastructure projects including:

$228 million over three years to fund much-needed repairs and maintenance of the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges in Montreal.

$150 million over five years was allocated to the construction of an all-season road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

$1 billion to fund up to 50 percent of new international crossing at Windsor-Detroit

Refurbishment of Saint John Harbour Bridge

Creating new capacity at Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert

$150 million for inter-provincial and international crossings in Eastern Canada

As well, the Red Tape Reduction Commission received some ink in the budget. While no trucking-specific measures were revealed, the government stated that in future regulators will be required to take particular caution, using a "small business lens," in applying new regulations to small business, says OTA.  

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Your story is wrong wwith respect to this "The budget allocates $1 billion for up to 50 percent of the cost to construct the bridge." What the Budget actually said was this in relation to the DRIC road only: "A major milestone was achieved in 2010 when Ontario concluded the procurement process with a private sector consortium to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Windsor-Essex Parkway, a six-lane below-grade highway that will extend Highway 401 in Windsor to the new international bridge. Through the Gateways and Border Crossings Fund, the Government is providing up to $1 billion to fund 50 per cent of this project’s eligible capital costs." As you will recall, ex Transport Minister Strahl said in Parliament in relation to the bridge: "Hon. Chuck Strahl (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): That was a good question, Mr. Speaker. How much money are we going to spend on the new Windsor bridge? We are going to spend zero taxpayer dollars. It is a P3 project. It will not have a single dollar in it.

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