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Howard Avenue Crossing — PIC 1

Howard Avenue Canadian Pacific Railway
Grade Separation (CPR)

Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Design

Public Information Centre 1

April 4, 2006

Table of Contents

Map of Howard Avenue at CPR tracks

Study Purpose

This study will address strategic border crossing issues, specifically: enhancing vehicular and rail traffic operations in the area and providing potential alternatives to the problem of vehicular delays at the Howard Avenue at-grade crossing.

The purpose of this PIC is to obtain your input on the potential issues and impacts related to the proposed Howard Avenue / CPR grade separation.

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  • The City of Windsor, the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario are working cooperatively to complete the environmental assessment for this project.
  • The environmental assessment process will meet the obligations under the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
  • The project was started to investigate how to grade separate Howard Avenue and the CPR line.
  • The study will investigate potential solutions to minimize vehicle delays on Howard Avenue when a train is crossing the road.
  • Funding for this study is being provided under the Canada-Ontario Border Infrastructure Fund, as part of the Let’s Get Windsor – Essex Moving Strategy.

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Need and Justification

  • Howard Avenue is a major north-south arterial road, commuter route to the downtown and designated truck route.
  • Current Howard Avenue traffic volume is approximately 30,000 vehicles per day which is predicted to grow to approximately 36,000 by 2016.
  • Existing CPR traffic averages approximately 23 train crossings per day with train lengths of up to 1.5 kilometres.
  • This combination of road and rail traffic meets the warrants for a grade separation.
  • The U.S. Customs & Border Protection Agency has implemented a Vehicle & Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) requiring that all U.S. bound rail traffic be scanned by VACIS technology, potentially contributing to additional road delays along Howard. Approximately half of the crossings noted above (those bound for the US) will require VACIS scanning.
  • VACIS may result in slower rail traffic operating speeds and longer trains.

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Environmental Assessment (EA)

The planning for this project is being carried out in accordance with the following well-established government environmental planning study processes:

  • Ontario Municipal class EA Process
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)

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Study Area Conditions

The following information is summarized:

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Howard Corridor Operations

  • Howard Avenue corridor intersections with the highest number of collisions are located at Eugenie Street (10 per year) and at Memorial Avenue (7.5 per year).
  • Northbound vehicles stopped at the Memorial Drive intersection signals often straddle the rail corridor.
  • Existing through lanes on Howard Avenue in the Study Area are sufficient to handle the anticipated traffic volumes to beyond 2035.
  • The CPR/Howard Avenue crossing is the most significant contributor to vehicle delays in the Howard Avenue corridor.
  • The CPR/ Howard Avenue crossing meets the warrants for upgrading to a railway/road grade separation.
  • The Windsor Fire Department currently dispatches from two separate fire stations if a response requires passing a level crossing, in case one vehicle gets stopped.
  • The intersection at Memorial Drive needs additional turning lanes for southbound left turns and northbound right turns.

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Initial Assessment of Alternative Solutions

This alternative would not address the problem and will not be carried forward for further assessment.

Howard Avenue/CPR Grade Separation
Both overpass (road over rail) and underpass (road under rail) alternatives have been assessed. The overpass option has been rejected as impractical. The length of the required road improvements would extend considerably longer than the underpass alternative. The overpass would result in a considerable additional impact to properties along the Howard Avenue corridor, particularly to residential properties north of the Essex Terminal Railway crossing. The underpass option has less overall impacts. Alternative concepts for the underpass alternative will be studied in detail in the next phase of the Environmental Assessment.

The underpass alternative is the only alternative being carried forward for additional assessment.

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Evaluation Factors

Alternative underpass design options will be evaluated by documenting their potential impacts and features against a range of environmental factors. Evaluation factors include the following:

  • Social Environment
  • Businesses
  • Cultural Environment
  • Natural Environment
  • Traffic Operations and Safety
  • Engineering
  • Costs

Evaluation Criteria

Factor Example Criteria
Social Environment
  • Displacement of residences
  • Disruption to residential property
  • Noise & air quality
  • Visual / aesthetics
  • Effect on communities / community mobility
  • Businesses displaced
  • Businesses disrupted
  • Changes in access
Cultural Environment
  • Effect on archaeological resources
  • Effect on cultural resources
Natural Environment
  • Terrestrial environment / vegetation
  • Groundwater
Traffic Operations and Safety
  • Road Safety
  • Level of traffic service
  • Pedestrain & cyclist mobility
  • Disruption during construction
  • Constructability
  • Stormwater & drainage
  • Utilities
  • Implementation

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Evaluation Procedure

Document Impacts

Using the factors and criteria the potential impacts and comparative differences amongst underpass alternatives will be determined and documented. This will include identifying appropriate mitigation measures to minimize impacts wherever possible.


An evaluation will be completed comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives and by considering the overall relative importance of the factors and criteria.

Public Input

Please provide us with your input and comments on the factors, example criteria and potential impacts and issues.

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