Canadian Officials Say New Bridge To Detroit, Economic Lifeline Must Happen

Michigan Voters will take up the question of whether to build a new span over the Detroit River, and if the Canadian government has their way — that bridge will be built.

WWJ’s Kathryn Larson went over the border to talk with to Transport Canada’s Mark Butler for part three of her story.

Even though they’re just architectural plans right now, Butler his country is way beyond shovel ready.

“The bridge will be built with no cost to Michigan or Michigan tax payers,” said Butler. “Canada has committed to come up with those funds so, zero cost to Michigan, zero cost to Michigan tax payers, but 110 benefits.”

Canada is already knee-deep in a construction project for the Windsor Essex Parkway — an I-696-like below grade road that will funnel into the mouth of the new bridge. Butler said construction on the parkway will be completed by 2014 and is another integral part of the International Bridge Project.

Butler said the Canadian government believes one bridge isn’t enough.

“The issue that we have with the ambassador bridge is that it’s an 80-some-odd-year-old structure, it’s done yeoman’s job in providing service to Canadians and Americans traveling the border, but it is an 80-year-old structure,” said Butler.

Windsor’s Mayor Eddie Francis agreed, saying the international crossing has to happen.

“This is an economical lifeline, so the choice is very clear. If you agree with the Ambassador Bridge, then you’ve basically agreed to cut that economic lifeline,” said Francis.

Francis said 28 percent of all North American trade happens across the Detroit River, or $150 billion in industry.

“If you believe that the economic lifeline is very important and critical to our jobs, to our economy, then we have no other choice,” said Francis.

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