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Redevelopment of Canada’s Second Busiest Border Crossing – An Exercise in Consensus Building


Over the last two decades, Canada and the US have developed the largest bilateral trading partnership in the world. Commercial and passenger traffic crossing the border has increased so significantly that many land border operating authorities are forced to expand their facilities to accommodate this growth. The Canadian Authority for Blue Water Bridge (BWB) between Point Edward/Sarnia in Ontario and Port Huron in Michigan has recently completed a Master Plan addressing these growing demands and evolving border operating policies. The longer-term needs for the Plaza were identified through pro-active consultations with a multitude of stakeholders as well as a thorough assessment of the future traffic and infrastructure requirements. At the outset of the planning exercise, the study team identified a list of key objectives that the eventual plan had to meet. Sensitivity tests on future projected traffic and various processing rates were conducted in determining the processing infrastructure requirements, e.g. inspection and toll lines. Significant cooperation was fostered with a wide variety of stakeholders involving in inter-related issues such as border security, traffic flow & safety, plaza operations, land exchange, cost sharing, neighbourhood impacts, local access and tourism. Specific Plaza operational issues were identified and used as input to develop alternative plaza layouts which ultimately resulted in the development of the recommended plan creating an optimum balance in terms of meeting the requirements of the various users and stakeholders. Although Plazas at a border crossing have no standard layout or size, they all consist of similar infrastructure: toll (usually), duty free, primary inspection lanes, secondary inspection areas, administration & maintenance facilities, and ITS installation. In developing the BWB Canadian Plaza Master Plan, about twenty alternative plaza layouts were considered including many sub-options. These included layouts of primary and secondary inspection areas addressing various geometric challenges, as well as the location and configuration of buildings and parking areas. A screening assessment of the long list of alternatives led to a detailed analysis of a short listing of four alternatives and the selection of a preferred layout. The Plan included a phasing plan and a construction staging plan in which the key challenge is maintaining operations and traffic on a 24/7 basis.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Chiu, M
Teft, E
Geometric design