26 February, 2024

Trans Canada Trail Offers New Cross-Border Connection

Hitting the trail in Windsor, ON? Don’t forget your passport. 

On Feb. 9 in front of a packed room at Windsor City Hall, Trans Canada Trail President and CEO Eleanor McMahon joined with Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, elected officials and local trail partners to announce a first for Canada’s national trail network: an international bridge border crossing.  

The Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will connect Windsor, ON to Detroit, Michigan, was officially made part of the Trans Canada Trail. This means trail users will be able to use the bridge’s toll-free, separated multi-use path to make the official border crossing and connect to trail systems on either side of the border. 

A first-of-its-kind partnership

“This partnership is a significant milestone for the Trans Canada Trail. We’re thrilled to collaborate with Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority to provide Canadians and visitors with an interconnected and accessible international trail system,” said McMahon, who grew up in Windsor.  

“As part of the Trans Canada Trail network, the Gordie Howe International Bridge will be a catalyst for recreation, active transportation opportunities, tourism and economic development in both border communities – and beyond.” 

This first-of-its-kind binational partnership will connect the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail (part of the Trans Canada Trail) in Windsor to Iron Belle Trail and the Great Lakes Way in Detroit, Michigan. The active transportation infrastructure on the Gordie Howe International Bridge will act as a gateway to Ontario’s wine regions in Essex County and the Niagara Region, and will also connect tourists and locals to the new Ojibway National Urban Park. 

Economic, environmental and active transportation benefits

Le pont Gordie-Howe

Connecting vibrant trail systems on both sides of the border promotes unity, tourism and economic prosperity. On top of the economic, environmental and active transportation benefits, the two-kilometre trip across the bridge will be a memorable experience in and of itself.  

“This trail will certainly be an incredible, scenic route, offering unparalleled views of our two-nation destination,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “It will also be an economic bridge that will bring our communities closer together. This will invite visitors to explore the vibrant Windsor-Detroit corridor like never before.” 

“Building stronger, healthier communities takes vision, hard work and partnership,” added Irek Kusmierczyk, Member of Parliament for Windsor – Tecumseh. “Today, thanks to the leadership of the Trans Canada Trail and the WDBA, Windsor-Essex is taking another giant step forward in expanding access to trails that connect people and boost quality of life.” 

A binational team effort

The large crowd that assembled at Windsor City Hall on Feb. 9 was made up of trail groups, elected officials, diplomats and media. Every speaker at the event noted that this project provided a remarkable example of not only cross-border cooperation but also across-the-board teamwork and support.  

“Everyone’s been rowing in the same direction, from the federal level to the provincial level to the municipal level,” said Mayor Dilkens. “Having this room as full as it is today is the strongest testament to the importance of this project and you should all be very, very proud of how the community it is moving forward today.”  

The Gordie Howe International Bridge may mark the first international bridge border crossing to join the Trans Canada Trail’s 28,000km network. But McMahon hopes it won’t be the only one for long. 

“We hope that this announcement will inspire other border communities to explore facilitating this kind of active transportation opportunity,” she said. “Trail-based border crossing is possible and it presents a tremendous opportunity to enhance economic development through trails tourism for communities that embrace it.”

Watch the full announcement

Image credits: Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority

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