Monday, July 5, 2010
We started our meeting with Prof. Goodchild giving a presentation on Pacific Highway Border Crossing Commercial Vehicle Operations. Then each attendee introduced their research focuses. Professors and students from University of Windsor have a variety of research interests in border facilities, loop detector operations, roundabout design, and the impact of truck traffics on congestions, and so on. Later Prof. Anderson presented his research on the Border and Ontario Economy. He introduced that Ontario has an export-oriented economy, with most export goods transported by trucks and highly dependent on critical infrastructure. He also discussed the border crossing costs, supply chain risk in Auto industry resulted from uncertain border crossing time, and strategies utilized to mitigate such uncertainty. He also gave another presentation on infrastructure issues with border crossing: A second Windsor-Detroit Bridge? He talked about the public-private partnership model for building a second Windsor-Detroit Bridge and the funding issues from US government.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Unplanned stop on the tour: Your blogging correspondent had the privilege of being briefly detained by the Toronto Police for suspicious photographic activity at the security perimeter of the G20 meeting area.
As an engineer and awed by the logistical and construction challenges of such a massive temporary security infrastructure, yours truly was wandering around the city, curiously and innocently documenting the dichotomous landscape, taking pictures of beautiful Toronto landmarks with so much concrete and steel in the foreground.
According to the detaining officer, the "eye in the sky" had spotted suspicious activity and, after being followed for an undetermined amount of time and detained in a hotel lobby restroom, the suspect was searched, questioned, identified, verified, and enjoyed a suspect-officer picture sharing session of all content on the digital camera in question. The suspect's story was then verified with the other members of the traveling party after which it was decided that, yes, tourists tend to take pictures of interesting things. And, as the officer stated that the police were operating under the War Measures Act with due process temporarily suspended, more photographic prudence would be wise.
But to be fair, the officers involved were quite friendly and our dinner was only delayed by about fifteen minutes. And dinner was delicious -- freedom never tasted so good.
Monday, June 28, 2010
MetroLinx was created in 2006 as a regional level government that reports directly to the Monitsry of Transportation of Ontario. Metrolinx's first order of business was to develop a regional transportation plan. This plan (The Big Move) was completed in 2008, and now Metrolinx focus has shifted to implementation of the plan.
There are Nine Big Moves are the priority actions of Metrolinx and impact the GTHA’s transportation system. While all important, Big Move #8 was of the most interest to us. Big Move #8 relates to goods movement, more specifically to the desire to develop "a comprehensive strategy for goods movement" with a focus on urban and regional freight. Mtrolinx is concerned with both mobility within the city and moving goods through Toronto.
In order to move forward with Big Move #8, a GTHA Urban Freight study was conducted. The study did not include data collection or modeling, but instead created a framwork that helps guide future data collection and moceling efforts. Additionally, a roundtable group of industry representatives, as well as a technical advisroy board were established.
The University has recently built a new transportation lab with attached board room. It was similar to our own new TransLab with computers available for research and a panel of flat screens suitable for video monitoring feeds. They have done a very nice job with their lab and it was a great place to meet.
We spent some time as Prof. Roorda introduced his research, and then listened as Prof. Goodchild presented a lecture on some of her recent work modeling freight flows in Washington. We concluded with each of the students in attendance (us plus 4 or 5 of the UofToronto students) giving an overview of their work. Nearly each of us had a corresponding student at the partner university doing similar work.
Thanks Prof. Roorda!
Here was our agenda:
1) Travel to Detroit, cross the border, and drive to Toronto
2) Explore Toronto, ride transit, get a feel for the city
3) Meet with Matt Roorda and others from the University of Toronto
4) Meet with Julia Salvini at Metrolinx
5) Meet with Bill Anderson and others at the University of Windsor
6) Meet with and tour the CBSA crossing at the Ambassador Bridge
7) Explore the area surrounding the Ambassador Bridge
8) Cross the border
9) Meet with the Detroit Chamber of Commerce
We really enjoyed the contrast between Toronto & Vancouver, Metrolinx and TransLink, and the two border regions. Even though the Cascade Gateway is so important in the northwest, we were stunned to see how much larger the Great Lakes crossings are.
More to come on each of our stops . . . .
TransLink is the Greater Vancouver Region’s transportation authority. It plans transportation services and infrastructure as well as financing and managing of all public transit. It also plans the future of freight in the region. He started with a presentation explaining how TransLink is organized and how it relates to other agencies. He called our attention to the fact that the board of directors’ members are volunteers and the positive impact of having an unique authority coordinating municipalities’ transportation-related actions. This last point has allowed coordinating infrastructure investment and traffic management projects in the area.
We also were introduced to the transit planning and operations in the region. Transit is a fundamental component in TranLink’s vision for a sustainable future. Billions of dollars have been spent in new infrastructure and equipment as new heavy rail lines (the famous SkyTrain) have been installed, bus fleet have been updated and transit corridors improved. TransLink can also regulate land uses and has the authority to buy land (at market price) when a new transportation project requires it. This ensures the uses and densities exist to create transit-oriented developments. It was interesting to contrast the more top-down approach Vancouver and, in general, Canada has in transportation planning. On the contrary, the US follows a more bottom-up approach where citizens and local agencies have more power.
Finally, we were shown the different road infrastructure projects in the region to keep delay low for trucks. These projects are complemented with new investments in intelligent transportation systems to improve the management of infrastructure and traffic in the area.
We were incredible thankful to Keenan for his enriching and thoughtful presentation and left discussing the similarities and differences between the Greater Vancouver Region and the US.