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‘I feel like Santa Claus’ — Ford announces $50M for Banwell Road/EC Row interchange

MPP Andrew Dowie, left, and Premier Doug Ford are shown at a press conference in Kingsville on Monday, March 11, 2024. PHOTO BY DAN JANISSE /Windsor Star

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced $50 million for upgrades to a busy east Windsor intersection expected to be overwhelmed by traffic from the NextStar Energy battery plant.
During a visit to Kingsville on Monday morning, Ford announced the major financial boost for a new interchange that will help traffic flow around Banwell Road and E.C. Row.
Ford also announced that work has begun on the long-awaited Highway 3 expansion. Clearing trees is the first order of business, followed soon by shovels in the ground.
“As the region’s economy expands, we need to ensure we’re building the infrastructure to keep up with this growth,” Ford said.“We’re building new roads and highways to keep up with the growing demand that we see here, and keep people moving and goods moving safely.”

Premier Doug Ford speaks during a press conference in Kingsville on Monday, March 11, 2024. PHOTO BY DAN JANISSE /Windsor Star

The premier made the announcement at the MTO Cotton Patrol Yard in Kingsville during a morning event.Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he was “ecstatic” about the funding for the city interchange. With about two years left before the electric vehicle battery plant opens, he said the city could not complete the interchange project without the province’s contribution.

“This is an incredible level of support for a project like this,” Dilkens said. “It will be amazing to see that intersection completely reconstructed to a point where it now flows properly and helps support that incredible factory that’s being built at that corner.”

Nine months ago, Ford visited the same Kingsville site to announce that his government had awarded a contract to design, build, and finance the widening of Highway 3 between Essex and Leamington for $138 million. He also announced his government was procuring an environmental assessment and design for a new interchange connecting Highway 401 to Lauzon Parkway, a project Dilkens has advocated for years.

Asked if his government would consider taking over responsibility for E.C. Row Expressway — a burden that costs the City of Windsor $10 million annually to maintain and one the mayor would like to upload to the province — Ford said he’d chat with Dilkens about it.“I feel like Santa Clause to this mayor. I’ve given him more presents than anyone in Ontario,” Ford said, eliciting laughter from the handful of politicians present.

Premier Doug Ford greets construction workers before a press conference in Kingsville on Monday, March 11, 2024. PHOTO BY DAN JANISSE /Windsor Star

The City of Windsor has allocated nearly $8.5 million for improvements to the Banwell/E.C. Row interchange in its 10-year capital budget. Roughly $2 million is scheduled to be spent on work this year, with the remainder on the books for 2025.In light of Monday’s announcement, city engineer Mark Winterton told reporters Windsor would “immediately shift gears” to accelerate the project’s design and construction.“It’s super exciting from an engineering point of view to work on a project as transformative as this, something that’s been needed long before the NextStar plant came along — that just added additional impetus to get this work done,” Winterton said.

“Anybody that goes in that intersection now knows we’ve got some safety issues there, we’ve got some traffic issues there. This will be a game-changer from a traffic point of view in that particular area of the city.”
The entire interchange project is expected to cost about $85 million. Winterton said he does not expect any other city infrastructure projects to be delayed or cancelled as the city prioritizes Banwell and E.C. Row.MPP Andrew Dowie (PC — Windsor-Tecumseh) said he was proud to be a part of delivering the interchange.

“We need housing. We need industry. We need to reduce gridlock so that we’re not putting emissions out that don’t need to be put out,” Dowie said. “Having this interchange is going to make an incredible difference for the people of Tecumseh, the people of Windsor.”

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