June 15, 2012
WINDSOR ESSEX MOBILITY GROUP
Industry associations praise agreement on new bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario to Detroit
A new partnership has been struck between the governments of Canada and Michigan to build a second bridge in the Windsor, Ontario-Detroit transportation corridor.
"Today's announcement shows the Government of Canada recognizes the importance and significance of new infrastructure as it relates to the Canadian economy," said Michael Atkinson, Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president in a release on June 15.
"Transportation corridors such as Windsor/Detroit help to transport millions of dollars in goods between Canada and the U.S., and construction of these projects not only provides economic stimulus during the project, but ensures a reliable and efficient infrastructure system exists to maintain a strong Canadian economy."
The $1 billion bridge project is expected to create over 10,000 construction jobs in the region, as well as hundreds of jobs to operate the bridge. At the same time, the bridge will help alleviate congestion in the traffic corridors of the region.
Over one-third of Ontario-U.S. trade flows across the border between Michigan and Ontario. The Canadian business community has been demanding a second bridge between Windsor and Detroit for several years.
“A new bridge is long overdue," said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in a release.
"The region can't continue to rely on one major span. If the Ambassador Bridge were closed for any reason, even just for repairs, it could have catastrophic effects on the economies of both nations.” The project includes the bridge, Canadian and U.S. inspection plazas, and an interchange with Interstate-75 with construction expected to take four to five years. The project will be funded by the Government of Canada, though the U.S. plaza will be the responsibility of the U.S. government. The private sector is also expected to contribute to the project through a public-private partnership. The governments of Ontario and Canada are jointly funding the Windsor Essex Parkway, which will connect Highway 401 to the new bridge.
United Steelworkers (USW) national director Ken Neumann welcomed the news.
"Today's deal that guarantees Canadian and American steel will be used to build the new Windsor-Detroit bridge is a great victory. Our pressure on the politicians to do the right thing has paid off," he said in a release.
With the signing of the agreement, Canada and Michigan can now proceed with the next steps of the project, which include further design work and property acquisition on the U.S. side before construction can begin. Canada will fund up $550 million for Michigan's costs for the road approaching the crossing. In exchange, Canada will collect Michigan's bridge tolls until the funds are recouped.
The CCA has long promoted the importance of infrastructure investment as it relates to the strength of the Canadian economy and has been pleased with the number of infrastructure projects undertaken through the Building Canada Plan.
“Investments such as the Asia-Pacific Gateway, CentrePort Canada in Manitoba, the Atlantic Gateway, and now this important investment in Windsor are all critical to the long-term health and stability of our Canadian economy,” said John Schubert, CCA chair.
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