Speedier, safer, and smarter border crossings – that’s what the province of Ontario could soon have once an expert panel jointly set up by the governments of Canada and Ontario completes its work.
The panel’s mandate is to explore how technology may be used to improve traffic flow between Ontario and the United States.
The new joint initiative is part of the Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving strategy announced in March – that involves using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) along roadways leading to border crossings.
Chief beneficiaries will be the millions of drivers who cross Ontario-U.S. borders each year.
As Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar pointed out, harnessing ITS to speed up border crossings will have a pervasive payoff – benefiting trade, tourism and the economy in general.
Around 45 million vehicles traverse Ontario-U.S. border crossings each year, while each day more than $900 million worth of goods pass through.
The expert panel will evaluate how existing technologies can be best harnessed to keep drivers informed of traffic conditions and better manage traffic during busy travel times. ITS technologies include cameras to monitor traffic, weather and road conditions. Electronic sensors and detectors embedded in the roadway will gauge traffic speed. All of this information will be passed along to drivers through real time changeable message signs.
Following a competitive bidding process, Delcan Corp. was selected by a joint Transport Canada-Ontario Ministry of Transport evaluation committee to undertake the project.
While this initiative stems from the Let’s get Windsor-Essex Moving strategy, technology developed could be applied at other Ontario border crossings.
The cost of the 18-month project ($1.3 million) will be equally shared by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. Federal funding for the project comes from the Border Infrastructure Fund.
Regularly updated project information will be available to the public at www.intelligentborder.ca.
ITS includes the use of applications such as advanced systems for traveler information, traffic management, public transport, commercial vehicle operations, emergency response management, and vehicle safety.
The Government of Canada’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Plan for Canada: En Route to Intelligent Mobility (1999) sets out the strategy for stimulating the development and deployment of ITS across urban and rural Canada.
Its goals are to maximize the use and efficiency of existing infrastructure and meet future mobility needs more responsibly. The ITS Plan provides leadership and support to advance the application and compatibility of ITS technologies and to increase the safety, integration, efficiency and sustainability of Canada’s transportation system.
More information on that plan can be found at www.its-sti.gc.ca/en/its_plan_for_canada.htm.