The Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway
The Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway is the result of community consultation and extensive technical and environmental studies. Following the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study, Ontario’s most comprehensive environmental assessment conducted, the Parkway was approved as the right solution to address community needs and transportation goals. The Parkway is the access road portion of a new proposed end-to-end border transportation system at Canada’s busiest land border crossing and premier trade corridor. The system, which includes the Parkway, a Canadian inspection plaza, an international bridge, a U.S. inspection plaza and a U.S. interchange, will link Windsor to Detroit and connect Highway 401 to the U.S. Interstate system for the first time. Information on the DRIC study and the border transportation system can be found at www.partnershipborderstudy.com.
The Parkway is unprecedented in terms of its combination of transportation, community and environmental features.
- 11 km in length
- new urban six-lane freeway
- new parallel four-lane service road network
- below-grade freeway
- full illumination
- stormwater management facilities
- advanced traffic management system
Community and Environmental Features:
- 11 tunnels covering 1.8 km of freeway
- community connections
- more than 300 acres of green space
- 20 km of recreational trails
- noise mitigation measures
- extensive landscaping
- special measures to protect wildlife
- linkages for wildlife
Since 2005, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has worked with local municipalities, other provincial ministries, the Canadian federal government, and agencies to improve the Windsor-Detroit gateway. The Parkway is the first Ontario transportation project to be delivered with an alternative financing and procurement (AFP) model – a public-private partnership delivery model managed by Infrastructure Ontario. The AFP model provides the public sector an opportunity to transfer project risks to the private sector, which commits to delivering projects on time and on budget. MTO and Infrastructure Ontario work together to oversee, monitor and assess the works delivered by the private sector partner ensuring compliance with the contract project agreement and adherence with highway construction and safety standards. Following a rigorous procurement process, the Windsor Essex Mobility Group (WEMG) was selected to design, build, finance and maintain the Parkway. On December 17, 2010, Infrastructure Ontario and MTO announced that WEMG reached financial close and signed a fixed-price contract with the Province. The value of the contract to WEMG is approximately $1.4 billion in today’s dollars. Over the 30-year life of the contract, the total future payments will add up to approximately $2.2 billion. As part of this contract, WEMG is responsible for maintaining not only the road networks but the Parkway green space and trails as well. The contract with WEMG is performance-based. WEMG is a consortium of ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., Acciona Concessions Canada, and Fluor Canada Ltd. Parkway Infrastructure Constructors (PIC) is under contract to WEMG to design and construct the Parkway. PIC is a joint venture of Fluor Canada Ltd., Dragados Canada Inc. and Acciona Infrastructures Canada Inc. For more information on AFP please visit www.infrastructureontario.ca
In May 2008, the Windsor-Essex Parkway (now the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway) was presented by the DRIC study team as the Technically and Environmentally Preferred Alternative for the Ontario access road portion of a new proposed end-to-end border transportation system for the Windsor-Detroit Gateway. Since May 2008, extensive planning, design and preparatory work has been completed leading up to the first day of construction on August 18, 2011. Over 300 people in 16 different offices in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, worked together to reach construction start. This effort is equivalent to one person year of work completed every day or one lifetime of work achieved every month. Click here to view a Herb Gray Parkway chronology.
The first section of Highway 401 opened on June 29, 2015. The remaining section of Highway 401 (3 km) opened on November 21, 2015. Full landscaping and other minor work will be completed in spring 2016.
On November 28, 2012, the Windsor-Essex Parkway was named after one of Windsor’s most popular politicians – the Right Honourable Herb Gray. Mr. Gray represented Windsor as a member of parliament for an unprecedented 13 consecutive terms. During his career, he served as minister for numerous federal departments, Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the International Joint Commission. Mr. Gray was bestowed the title “Right Honourable” by the Governor General on January 15, 2002. Naming the Parkway after the Right Honourable Herb Gray is a fitting tribute. The Rt. Hon. Herb Gray Parkway will service a major trade gateway between Canada and the U.S. – a relationship Mr. Gray strengthened with his service.
Given the nature of this project, construction of the Parkway was no small feat. WEMG and PIC completed construction by sub-contracting out a large majority of products and services. Wherever possible, these contracts were awarded to local companies and were worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Community input has played an integral role in this project. Residents, business owners, stakeholders and local municipalities helped create the Parkway and its unique features. Through the DRIC study, design completion and construction, the community has provided invaluable input, ideas and feedback. To view materials from public meetings visit our info centre page. To view meeting presentations and documents delivered during the DRIC study visit http://www.partnershipborderstudy.com/meetings.asp.
Windsor-Essex’s unique and sensitive natural environment has been incorporated into the Parkway’s design which showcases how large-scale infrastructure and public uses can co-exist with local plant and animal habitat. To learn more about sustainability efforts on the Parkway, visit our sustainability page.