Bison Transport has received approval to build a $2.5-million truck marshalling yard just east of Windsor which will serve as a hub for its long combination vehicle (LCV) operations.
Bison plans to use the yard to drop the second trailer from its LCVs, which will then be hauled into the US by other drivers. Northbound drivers pulling just one trailer will also be able to pick up a second load for delivery into Ontario. The new site will be constructed at the southeast corner of the Hwy. 401/Hwy. 77 interchange, just north of Comber. The site could be expanded as large as 26 acres.
The project at first met with some opposition from local politicians who voiced concerns about the need for new traffic signals and road improvements.
Rob Penner, vice-president of operations with Bison Transport, said the company has been working on the deal since the spring of 2009.
“There were several key hurdles to clear,” he told CT&L. “Finding a location close enough to the Windsor-Detroit crossing and the usual purchasing caveats such as environmental impact studies and soil testing, gaining approval for the site development plan, ensuring the site met LCV certification standards, etc. We had some rezoning hurdles and provincial and municipal wrangling, but by and large, the municipal officials and community were in favour.”
Asked if the significant investment is a sign the company may have some inside information on whether Ontario plans to expand its LCV project, Penner said he’s hopeful, but that the company has received no commitment from the province.
“We have no insight into the LCV pilot or its expansion and we anxiously await the decision of the ministry,” said Penner. “The LCV pilot program has gone by flawlessly and barring an absolute catastrophe, I can’t imagine a circumstance that would cause the Ontario government to put an end to the program and further handicap industry in this province.”
Should the program be cancelled, however, Penner said Bison will still be proceeding with its development.
“This site is of strategic importance to us and is not contingent on the LCV initiative thriving,” Penner said. “Windsor-Detroit is critical to Canada-US trade and having a site in close proximity to the border to support our international traffic is an important part of our plan. Having said that, there is no question we are fully expecting the LCV initiative will advance. Our intention is ultimately to fully integrate LCVs into our cross-border operations.”
Penner said the site is being set up as a multi-tenant facility and space will be leased to other carriers.
The investment also means there are more employment opportunities for drivers based in the region.
“We have plenty of regional and long-haul jobs available for Windsor-based drivers today and we definitely plan on continuing to grow that segment of our business,” said Penner. “In fact, having a facility in that region will help all of our drivers with improved utilization and optimizing home time,” he added, noting drivers living in that part of the province will now be able to avoid the congested GTA.