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New state-of the-art sensors will be installed next month near one of the city’s busiest intersections leading into and away from the Ambassador Bridge in hopes to better understand traffic flow and improve safety near border crossings.


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The ongoing mix of big rig trucks, vehicles and pedestrians around the intersection of Huron Church Road and College Avenue has long been a recipe for potential danger.

Further south along Huron Church, the mixture of trucks and cars moving in and out of lanes has also posed many risks.

A network of cameras and sensors will be installed near the bridge along Huron Church, then studied by professors and students with the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute as part of the $206,000 project supported by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund.

The project will be led by the institute’s civil engineering professor Hanna Maoh.

“We’re trying to understand how traffic moves through this major node,” he said. “Collecting data in real time is critical for any meaningful analysis.”


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Heavy traffic can be seen on Huron Church at College Avenue, on Thursday, August 12, 2021.
Heavy traffic can be seen on Huron Church at College Avenue, on Thursday, August 12, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

The goal is for border traffic predictions to become as commonplace as weather forecasting, Maoh said. Much of the same technology will hopefully be used once the Gordie Howe International Bridge opens for traffic in 2024.

“This would ultimately improve safety because we know that accidents involving big trucks are more lethal,” Moah said.

“Improving the performance of border crossings will also enhance the competitiveness of Canadian producers in North American and global markets. We want to establish Canada as the world leader in border management practice and technology.”

The cross-border institute has used sensors in the past, but they were glitchy since they relied on solar power and solely counted passing trucks and cars — not monitor movement or speed, said the institute’s director Bill Anderson.


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“They were basic sensors,” he said. “This will be cutting-edge technology with far more sophisticated cameras and sensors. Instead of just doing a count, we will now have a constant real-time readout sent to the lab at the university. We will be able to monitor movement (between lanes) and see how trucks and cars interact.

“There will be far more information and data (for institute’s students and researchers) to analyze.”

Thanks to the sensors it is also hoped trucks could be outfitted with special tablets that display wait times and identify bottlenecks in real time.

“These will be permanent and run 24 hours a day,” Anderson said. “The sensors can be used to build up a network in the field and then to expand it and partner with people.”


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Information collected will not only soon hopefully assist truckers and local traffic, but also improve supply chain operation between Canada and the United States, he said.

“The statistics can be use to develop computer algorithms,” Anderson said. “We should be able to make better projections, be able to see certain patterns that tend to lead to congestion events and predict them before they happen.

“We will be processing the data and putting it out on a regular basis, so people can access it — whether it is the city, (government) ministry or private sector.”

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