Local Tourist / Transportation

Unlikely agency comes to aid of cyclists

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 25 2017

An unlikely organization has come to the air of cyclists - the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

If you have a membership with the CAA – and it’s usually motorists who do – that membership also includes help for problems when you happen to be travelling on two wheels.

The program is called Bike Assist.

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Everything you wanted to know about crash-prone Hwy 401 construction zone

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 25 2017

A stretch of Hwy 401 in Chatham-Kent has become increasingly dangerous this summer with several major traffic accidents resulting in deaths and injuries.

Between April and July there were 61 motor vehicle accidents – 28 that included commercial vehicles or tractor trailers – in a construction zone.

The OPP estimates up to 50,000 vehicles a day pas through that zone.

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Don't like daytime construction? You might really dislike the alternative

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 27 2017

Motorists griping about the city’s numerous summer construction projects might be complaining about something else if the city moved them to the wee hours of the night.

Noise.

City staff say they get a lot of feedback from motorists about the inconvenience of lane closures and driving around construction barrels during hot and dusty daytime streets.

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Kids walking to school promotes exercise, fights traffic congestion

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 10 2017

Traffic tie-ups around schools is a perennial problem in parts of Windsor.

It’s also part of a wider syndrome of the way children travel and the real or perceived attitudes towards safety and convenience.

A national organization is trying to combat parents driving their kids to school, approaching the issue from several perspectives.

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Toronto research firm's 'Pure Michigan' campaign's ROI stats questioned

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 5 2017

The Pure Michigan campaign which Canadians are familiar with from the soothing tones of narrator and TV actor Tim Allen’s voice, has been targeted as a huge waste of money that generates a pittance in tourism re-investment.

That’s the opinion of the conservative market-oriented Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which published the study’s results last fall.

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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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New frequent Detroit - Ann Arbor bus service

Want to go to Ann Arbor but don’t have a car? Starting Oct. 30, there will be frequent seven-day bus service from Detroit to the college city, which abounds in cultural activities, great restaurants and of course the largest stadium in the western hemisphere. University of Michigan this week announced an expansion of its Detroit Connector bus service from students to the general public. The schedule begins at 7 am and runs until 1 am. You can book online. For Windsorites, the one hitch would be getting from a Windsor Tunnel Bus stop downtown to UM’s Detroit Center, about a mile up Woodward and just past the new Little Caesars Arena. You can walk, take a Detroit city bus, taxi or of course, ride-sharing services. – 24/10/17

Easing the hassle paying at US pumps

Some may know the secret but others not. And living so close to the US everyone should know. That’s how to pay at the pump at an American gas station without having to punch in a US zip code. Many frustrated Canadians believe they still have to go into the station and have the clerk keep the credit card while activating the pump. When the vehicle is filled the customer goes back and the clerk processes the card. Time-consuming, right? But all that can be avoided by using a little numerical trickery. It’s not illegal and in fact Mastercard a few years ago came up with the solution. Just enter the three numbers of your postal code – forget the letters – and add two zeroes. So, if your postal code is A2B 3C4 simply enter 23400. And as the old- fashioned slogan had it, Happy Motoring! – 4/10/17

A new bus route is born: the LaSalle 25

LaSalle’s new bus route will be known as the LaSalle 25. The route, operated by Transit Windsor, begins Sept. 5 and will be offered free until the end of the year. Buses will operate Monday – Saturday 7 am to 7 pm and there will be a second bus during peak weekday morning and afternoon hours. The entire route will take 45 minutes and will run from Morton Dr. and Front Rd. to St. Clair College and vice versa. It will connect neighborhoods such as Heritage Estates, Normandy St., LaSalle Town Centre, the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Complex, and Front Road through the old downtown. The route will “capture” 70 per cent of the houses in the town’s urban area, the municipality says. Passengers will be able to transfer to other Transit Windsor routes - the South Windsor 7, Dougall 6 and Dominion 5. South Windsor 7 travels to Devonshire Mall and Walker Rd. The Dougall 6 and Dominion 5 travel to downtown Windsor. – 16/8/17

London Via Rail station could be revamped again

London’s Via Rail station, which is just a decade and half old, may be revamped again if the city becomes a stop on a provincial hi-speed rail line. An older Via station, in a modern black office tower, was demolished in 2001, to make way for what might be described as the current standard looking Via station. A report by London city staff said the station could be revamped again to include two new high speed rail platforms, three traditional Via platforms, and “intermodal” connections to local bus services, including the city’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. But London’s director of roads and transportation Edward Soldo is playing down the report, telling WON.com “it is just pure speculation to even be talking about it. I’m trying to put that story to bed, frankly, because it’s not what I want repeated out there.” An environmental assessment on the $20 billion line is just getting started. The line’s first phase would be between Toronto and London, completed in 2025. It would eventually extend to Windsor by 2031. – 3/8/17

Transit planners well aware of exchange rate changes

A Windsor Star story today “kind of” misreported a financing issue for a Transit Windsor bus order, says Transit Windsor general manager Pat Delmore. The story generated some online mockery against the municipal transit agency. The story may have made it seem transit planners were unaware of a US exchange rate difference between when the purchase order was made and confirmation of government grant funding. This left an extra bill of $215,000. “Wow, asking bureaucrats and especially politicians to think logically is a real tall order,” one commenter said. But Delmore said his staff were aware there could be a deviation in price. “We have general pricing on buses and we put into our capital budget, knowing what we know at the time,” he said. “The day we place our order is when the US exchange is recognized. This additional money is simply to confirm the pricing at the time of order and any fluctuation in pricing based on US dollar at the time of order. The budget is there, we just needed council approval for the actual price.” One commentator wanted to know why the agency was paying in US dollars. “These buses could not be purchased from a Canadian manufacturer?” Delmore said the money is for that portion of the buses manufactured in Plattsburg, NY. But most of the work is done at Nova Bus’s headquarters in St-Eustache, Quebec. – 29/6/17

Ambassador Bridge paving almost finished

There's a smooth ribbon of pavement where there used to be uneven surface and potholes along the Ambassador Bridge span. The paving took place at the same time as the bridge is installing new guardrails. "Paving is done on the bridge, we plan on doing more on Canadian Plaza," says Stan Korosec, Director of Canadian Government Relations and Security for the Detroit International Bridge Company. "Current lane configuration will stay in place (4 lanes US side, 3 lanes Canadian side) as work on guardrail and sidewalk continue for another year or so." - 22/5/17

Detroit's new streetcar fares

Windsorites pining for an old-fashioned – or should that be new – streetcar ride, will be able to board Detroit’s spiffy new QLine streetcar service beginning May 12. The streetcar runs along Woodward Ave. from Larned St. – a block north of Jefferson Ave. - to West Grand Blvd. and passes through the downtown business district, and by the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University. It will also pass by the new Little Caesars Arena, home of the Red Wings and Pistons, which is opening in September. Fares are $1.50 (US) and good for three hours, seniors’ fares are 75 cents, and there is a $3-day pass. Tickets can be purchased on board or by credit card from machines at modern well-identified stations. You can also download an app. The 3.3 mile route has 20 stations. – 4/5/17

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