Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority backtracks on plan to close Sandwich Street for construction

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority has backtracked on plans to completely close a section of Sandwich Street for eight weeks, following backlash from the community and local politicians. 

In a statement Friday, the authority said the closure would now last for 14 weeks but would leave one lane open in one direction.

“As a result of this work and the input from the community, WDBA, [Bridging North America] and the City have agreed to proceed with a partial closure of this segment of Sandwich Street,” the authority said in a statement. 

The bridge authority said it would be reviewing the impacts of the traffic closure throughout this period to both minimize impacts while completing the work before winter. 

The partial closure for the project is estimated to begin Sept. 5, 2023. 

During the work work, a partial detour will be in place on Prince Road. The authority said it would be adding speed radar signs and additional school crossing guards, funded by the City of Windsor, to the area during the detour.

About half the anticipated traffic is expected to use the detour.  

The $12-million project is a complete reconstruction of the road between Rosedale Avenue and McKee Avenue. The first phase is the reconstruction of 500 metres between Ojibway Parkway and Chappell Avenue. 

Last week, NDP MP Brian Masse and Ward 2 councillor Fabio Costante spoke out against the closure, noting that previous consultation with local residents and businesses described leaving a lane open for residential driveways and businesses. 

Street name signs where Sandwich Street meets Chappell Avenue in Windsor’s west end. Photographed Aug. 22, 2023. (Jacob Barker)

Business owners were also dismayed by the closure and said they were worried their businesses would take the hit, as they did during the Ambassador Bridge blockade in February 2022. 

“Never were we told that the road would be closed entirely,” Costante said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I find this completely unacceptable.”

Local officials ‘elated’ by reversal 

Masse said the reversal was a “huge” win for the Sandwich community. 

“It shows that you do matter. It shows that you’re important,” Masse said. “[It shows] that the underdog won’t be left behind in the city.

“That’s important for me because I see a beauty in Sandwich Towne, in the future going forward, that’s exceptional.”

Costante said he was “elated” by the move, but he had more questions about some of the specifics of the project. 

“Some other things that I’m going to ask are regarding whether or not the lane open is just going to be one-way traffic or two-way traffic,” Costante said. “If it’s one-way traffic, where are the other trucks going to be rerouted?”

Three people stand in front of a microphone
NDP MP Brian Masse, NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky and Ward 2 city councillor Fabio Costante at a press conference in Sandwich immediately following news the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) would keep a lane of Sandwich Street open during upcoming construction. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

“I’m glad that they’re listening to the community, they’re listening to the businesses, they’re listening to the residents and I’m even more glad to be working together to find solutions on this.”

NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky said the reversal showed the power of the Sandwich community. 

“Two big lessons here [are] that the [WDBA] or anybody that’s looking to do projects in Sandwich Towne, the west end, anywhere in the city: The key is to work with the community,” Gretzky said. “Because when you don’t work with the community, the other key takeaway is the community fights back.

“If, down the road, this goes off the rails again, you will likely find the three of us standing here again.”

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