Local Tourist / Transportation

London's '100In1Day' festival

WindsorOntarioNews.com March 8 2017

London is celebrating all that’s great about its city in one day, and you don’t have to be from London to take part.

The event, taking place June 3, follows similar activities in other cities such as Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal.

This is London’s first time holding the celebration.

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Four Freedoms - Olde Sandwich Towne's little known intersection

WindsorOntarioNews.com January 31 2017

You might know it as the corner where Mackenzie Hall and the nearby former Windsor Jail is located.

It’s also the site of St. John’s Anglican Church.

And the relatively new Brock school and the Westgate senior citizen apartment complex are on the southwest and southeast corners respectively.

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More Customs ABC kiosks designed to expedite long Pearson airport lineups

WindsorOntarioNews.com Dec 8 2016

If you’ve noticed the waits in the line ups being quicker lately at the Canada Customs areas at Toronto's Pearson International airport it might be because the government has added several new automated machines to speed processing.

“At the Toronto Pearson International Airport, eight additional ABC kiosks were added at both Terminals One and Three over the period late-May to mid-June 2016,” Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) spokesman Derek Lawrence said.

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Distracted driving case? Ont. launched stark anti-texting campaign in June

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 12 2016

The recent distracted driving – texting – case in Windsor was a local high profile example of an ongoing epidemic of such phone related behavior, which the Ontario government says it is strongly targeting.

Windsor resident DJ Cassady last month was sentenced to three-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing death in the July 2015 crash which saw Cassady’s Infiniti hit Amherstburg motorcyclist Donald Russell on the E.C. Row Expressway.

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On Via Rail, no longer a mad scramble for best train seats

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 14 2016

When you board a train these days it’s almost the same as boarding an airplane.

No longer can you choose your seats when you get on a Via Rail coach.

Instead, when you book your ticket you are assigned to a specific seat by number.

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In between a staycation and a vacation: this book has ideas

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 11 2016

Want an alternative to a vacation or staycation?

Why not take a day trip – or even a brief overnighter – and tour several of Ontario’s top natural attractions?

A good guide is the newly-released (by Firefly Books) 100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario, by Chris Earley and Tracy C. Read.

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Two more years left of Toronto's "Dig Down" Union Station reconstruction

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 26 2016

Train travellers arriving at Toronto’s Union Station might feel that they’ve been emerging into an never-ending construction zone.

Well, construction has been going on for six years as the venerable station is transformed into a larger and more accessible transit hub for Via and GO Transit trains.

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"Cat's eyes" have some pavement

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 4 2016

They’re known as “cat’s eyes.”

And they’re a lot more prevalent on highways in other jurisdictions than they are in Ontario.

Still, the province uses them if perhaps more strategically.

These are embedded pavement reflectors that light up at night when headlights are shone upon them.

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Have trouble navigating Pearson International? You're hardly alone

WindsorOntarioNews.com March 9 2016

Confused about getting around Toronto’s Pearson airport?

You’re not alone, if complaints to the Consumers Association of Canada are any indication.

Bruce Cran, president of the CAC, says he gets a “tremendous amount” of complaints about the airport – “it’s hundreds a year that we get.”

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A derelict Detroit alley transformed

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 4 2016

What was only a few years ago a derelict alley has been transformed into an internationally-acclaimed walkway, chock full of huge pieces of contemporary art, benches and, increasingly, restaurants and bars.

It’s called The Belt and runs between Gratiot and East Grand River, in between two halves of “the Z” parking garage, itself a unique structure that is filled with art from around the world.

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Vast park system across the border

WindsorOntarioNews.com December 23 2015

There’s nothing like it on this side of the border.

But within an hour of crossing the bridge or tunnel Canadians are welcome to enjoy the myriad activities in metro Detroit’s unique Metroparks system.

These aren’t urban parks with playgrounds and ball diamonds but vast rural parks that appear as if they are located hundreds of miles from any city.

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Michigan cider mills a fall delight

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept 18 2015

Quick, what does southeast Michigan have a whole lot of but southwestern Ontario doesn’t?

Apple cider mills.

The state of Michigan proliferates in cider mills with dozens concentrated not just in the rural areas but many in metropolitan Detroit or just outside the city.

There are well over a dozen in the greater Detroit region alone.

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Blue Water offers scenic cycling

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 5 2015

Local cyclists who want to escape for the day and see some totally different scenery might want to head just a little further north to the mouth of Lake Saint Clair.

You could drive to Walpole Island, for example, and take the Walpole-Algonac Ferry Ltd. ferry - cost $2 - across to Algonac, Michigan.

Once there you could hop on another short ferry ride and cycle around lovely Harsen’s Island, still on the American side.

That ferry, known as the Champion’s Auto Ferry, is free.

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Parkway traces epic war retreat

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 3 2015

Highway 2 in Chatham-Kent has been reborn.

It’s now also known as the Tecumseh Parkway, a heritage route that celebrates the life of the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh.

Driving east from Windsor one can see the exit sign for the parkway, which is bracketed by Janette’s Creek on the west and Bothwell on the east.

“The parkway was the child of a municipal employee who worked in heritage for many years,” and saw it as a “wonderful way to tell the history” of one of North America’s great battles, said Patricia Peters, tourism manager for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

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WestJet apologizes after erroneous Windsor-to-Calgary ticket issued

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 15 2015

What if an airline booked a ticket on a non-existent flight?

Well, that was what happened to Ron Stang, publisher of WindsorOntarioNews.com.

It all started last July when Stang had cancelled a previous booking through Air Miles for an Air Canada flight to Halifax.

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Travel alert: construction underway at Sarnia and Sault border crossings

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 9 2015

Construction is underway at the Blue Water Bridge between Sarnia and Port Huron and continues at the Canadian Customs Plaza in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Blue Water Bridge project began late last month and will continue until July.

The next phase of the Sault project is planned to get underway in May.

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VIA now offers reserved seating

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 4 2015

Travelling by train is getting more and more like travelling by airplane.

First VIA Rail brought in regulations for the amount and size of luggage that can be brought on coaches.

Now it has reserved seating.

According to VIA spokeswoman Mylène Bélanger VIA has offered reserved seating for “quite some time.”

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Despite mild winters, no break in snow removal costs

Don’t let these mild winters fool you. The city isn’t saving much on snow removal costs due to the light snowfalls and mild temps in the early parts of the year. For one thing, the city’s budget runs from January through December. So even a mild January and February has no bearing on a cold and snowy November and December, which was the case last year. In 2016 January to March was generally mild “but then November – December we had to roll quite a few times,” city engineer Mark Winterton said. “And we actually ended up with a slight deficit on our winter control budget.” It was about $100,000. The overall snow removal budget is just over $4 million. It’s based on a 10-year average of snow removal or what the city calls “control,” which includes applying salt. Winterton also reminded that snow trucks “roll” even if there’s minimal snow. “When you roll you roll and that costs money, right?” – 18/4/17

Local rail line among CPR's most successful

We all know the Canadian Pacific Railway line through Windsor is busy, with estimates over the years being as high as 30 trains a day cutting a swath through the middle of the city. They're moving mostly to and from the west side tunnel connecting Windsor and Detroit, as well as local yard shuntings, according to a 2008 city rail study done for the city and federal government. The tunnel itself handles about 400,000 rail cars a year. In freight figures released by the CPR for 2016, the line – connecting Chicago with Toronto and Montreal – more than held its own. Trains magazine says that while the railway’s traffic overall was down 3.8 per cent, “its intermodal business was up 0.8 per cent thanks largely to domestic cross-border shipments” moving along the local connecting line. The aged tunnel itself was built in 1910. A plan to build a new $400 million tunnel by CPR and Borealis Infrastructure Management was shelved in 2015. One of the tunnel’s two tubes was enlarged in 1993 to handle some but not all double stacked rail cars. – 8/3/17

Two year I-75 detour

Canadian snowbirds and others heading south along I-75 in Detroit take note. Effective Feb. 4, the 1.5 mile long Rouge River bridge southbound lanes will be closed for about two years to rebuild the deck of Michigan’s largest, by area, bridge, built in 1967. Regular motorists are aware of the numerous potholes and patching on the span and Michigan transportation authorities say the bridge has reached the end of its useful life. The recommended detour is to take westbound I-96 from the Ambassador Bridge to southbound I-275, connecting to southbound I-75 in Monroe, adding 30-35 miles. Even though it is closer I-94 is not recommended as a detour as it already is at capacity. Motorists could also use surface streets such as Fort, Jefferson, and Dix Hwy. Why close just one direction? The rebuild will take less time and cause fewer traffic back-ups. – 3/2/17

CAA store combines hi-tech and homey

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) left its long time central Windsor location on Ouellette Ave. last summer but had the official opening of its new outlet in November. The new location is a storefront in the Roundhouse Centre across from Devonshire Mall on Howard Ave. The store is one of several the CAA has made over in southwestern Ontario, incorporating more of a high tech design – there’s a “video wall” – along with a homier atmosphere including comfortable sofa chairs and a fireplace. Despite the small storefront the interior boasts a 4,025 sq. ft. retail space. – 22/12/16

Michigan moving to 75 mph on freeways

The Michigan Legislature is nearing passage of a law that would increase the speed limit on rural stretches of freeway to 75 miles an hour. An original proposal called for 80 miles per hour and the legislators agreed on the lower speed. The top speed is now 70 mph. Senator Tom Casperson said the purpose is to free the police to issue tickets only to egregious speeders. – 7/12/16

Local artist's big sculpture at Pearson

Next time you’re catching a flight – or have downtime between flights – at Pearson International, you might want to look for a huge sculpture hanging from the ceiling. It was created by Windsor artist and industrial designer Robert Coyle. The sculpture consists of 19 figures, each 1.5 metres long, that resemble paper airplanes, only they’re made of “shot blasted lexan” metal. They date from 2001-2003. The work is one of several large pieces of public art in the expansive airport. It is located in Terminal 1 in Domestic Departures (Hammerhead D). Coyle, a native of Kingston, is currently a Windsor resident and for many years worked at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn. He now is co-owner of the up and coming cycle manufacturing company, SGC Bikes in Walkerville, which is building the revolutionary-designed Celaris, a shiny stainless steel urban bike that is touted as providing a totally different riding experience. – 27/10/16

More trains for Windsor?

Via Rail Canada is considering increasing service to Windsor, after it removed four trains back in 2012. Windsor lost the 5:30 a.m. train to Toronto on Saturdays and Sundays and the arriving train from Toronto at 9:50 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Via cut the services after a business review determined times and routes with low ridership. But it always held out the possibility services could be restored. Here’s what Via spokeswoman Miriam Diaby replied when asked if Via is now considering adding service: “As you probably know, VIA Rail does not own the infrastructure on which it operates. In Southwestern Ontario, the number of frequencies we are able to offer is determined in collaboration with our partners. In the past year, VIA Rail has been discussing these possibilities and schedules with our partners at CN. We have co-funded a capacity study to see what type of work would have to be done in order to facilitate this schedule. We are expecting results of the study by year-end.” – 15/9/16

Train a boon for Toronto airport connections

The Union-Pearson Express, or UP as it’s known, has been a godsend for passengers wanting an easy connection between downtown Toronto and Pearson International Airport. The service, which started in June of last year, whisks passengers in 25 minutes between downtown Union Station and the airport. Departures are every 15 minutes. But the long-sought service initially turned into a white elephant. People weren’t using it because fares were too expensive. At $27.50 cash one-way they were the highest of any such airport service in North America, and the domain of well-heeled business types. The fare was dropped to $12 in March. UP Express spokeswoman Kim Johnson said riders now average more than 7500 weekly, “over three times the ridership since the new fare structure was introduced.” She said it continues “to rise week over week.” Asked if there’s much awareness of the service outside the GTA, Johnson said a digital campaign is targeting travellers “from top in-bound cities in Canada” and abroad, which probably leaves out Windsor. “We also receive and answer inquiries from potential Toronto-bound travellers through social media and engage in media outreach through partnerships with Tourism Toronto.” – 19/7/16

Proposed LsSalle bus route for major county expansion

The recommended new transit route connecting LaSalle and Windsor - and the first major expansion of transit into the county - would connect St. Clair College, the Malden Town Centre, Front Road and the Vollmer Centre. It would run from St. Clair along the Herb Gray Parkway and into LaSalle, along Heritage Drive to Sandwich Pkwy., Huron Church Rd., Normandy St., south on Malden Rd., west on Reaume Rd., north on Matchette to Morton, west on Morton, south on Front Rd. through the old town along the river, east on International Ave., north on Michigan Ave., and east on Laurier Dr. It would proceed to the Vollmer Centre where it loops back to Malden Rd., north to Normandy, and reversing the first section to St. Clair College. The town’s consultants said this would create a one-way route serving western (older LaSalle) and two lane route for the remaining areas including the modern Malden Town Centre, which in turn would allow “passengers to travel from the southwest to northwest without going via St. Clair College.” This route is the “quick start” service from which a more extensive, or even altered, route could in future grow. It’s intended to “build ridership” and “demonstrate momentum” for “improving transit travel in the greater Windsor urban area.” Connections to three Windsor bus routes would be at St. Clair College. The LaSalle route would run Monday-Friday 7 am to 7 pm every 45 minutes. The town could make a decision later this year. – 8/7/16

Travel notes: Yes, you can get there, Toledo station upgrade, Via ridesharing

You don’t have to drive to Toledo to take an Amtrak train to Washington or New York. You can take a connecting bus. Buses leave for Toledo from the Detroit – or according to Amtrak’s Marc Magliari the “more popular” Dearborn station - for an additional fee. They meet late evening departures from Toledo to the east coast, including Boston, and early morning arrivals from the east. The buses are operated by Trinity Transportation…...Meanwhile the Toledo Amtrak station has been undergoing renovation to also become home of Greyhound services, which have long operated out of downtown…...Via Rail Canada has been surveying passengers asking how they get to the train station and whether they would support more use of “shared” shuttle services. Is Via considering getting into the ridesharing business? Via spokeswoman Mariam Diaby: “this piece of research will help us to better understand how our customers are using emerging mobility offerings in conjunction with travel aboard VIA Rail and for potential expansion of the door-to-door customer experience.” – 31/5/16

- photo: TrinityTransportation.com