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Monday, 5 November 2012

Mind the Gap

Image of Proposed Bridge from Windsor to Detroit
Canada Wants to Bridge the Gap
By Gary Doer
[Special to Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
On June 15, Prime Minister Harper and Governor Snyder agreed to build a publicly owned bridge between Windsor and Detroit, the New International Trade Crossing.
The rationale for this bridge is clear. Over Eight million jobs in the US, including 237,100 jobs in Michigan, depend on trade and investment with Canada. Much of this relies on the Ambassador Bridge, which saw more than $120 billion worth of trade cross over it in 2011. This is fully one quarter of Canada-US trade in goods, making it the most important bridge crossing in the world.
However, the Ambassador Bridge is 83 years old, is too narrow for today's needs and lacks adequate customs plazas. In addition, access to the bridge is located in downtown Windsor, which requires trucks to travel through residential streets and 16 traffic lights to reach the on-ramp. Any plans to expand the current bridge do not therefore solve the larger congestion and delay problems.
With truck traffic conservatively predicted to increase 128% over the next 30 years, it is imperative that a solution is found. The New International Trade Crossing is that solution. It will be six lanes wide, with dedicated lanes for pre-screened cargo, and a direct freeway-to-freeway connection that avoids downtown Windsor and Detroit, thereby reducing delays and the massive costs associated with them.
There have been a number of misleading advertisements about the bridge and its costs -- here are the facts:

·There will be no cost to Michigan. Michigan's share of the bridge cost, estimated to be $550 million, will be paid by the Government of Canada and recouped through bridge tolls. Any cost over-runs or revenue short-falls will be paid by Canada.
·The bridge will be built with US and Canadian steel. The waiver to Buy America allows for Canadian steel to be used, but not steel from other countries.
·The bridge will create 10,000 - 15,000 direct construction jobs in Michigan. These well-paying construction jobs will provide a direct boost to Michigan's economy.
The New International Trade Crossing has the support of Governor Snyder, the Governments of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, the Chambers of Commerce of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, as well as automobile manufacturers, building trades and steel workers unions and farm organizations. In fact, the only real opposition comes from one company trying to protect its current monopoly on the Ambassador Bridge.
This bridge is needed to increase the competitiveness of our manufacturing sectors, create jobs on both sides of the border and ease travel between our two countries. I hope that I can count on your support in seeing this project through.
(Gary Doer is Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America)

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