Will A New Bridge Benefit Detroit?
Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, says Maroun and his company have a quasi monopoly with the Ambassador Bridge
Experts say in 30 years car traffic will rev up 128%. Truck traffic will boom 70% higher. A new international bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor is now on the fast track.
Baruah says, “If I was a betting man and I’m not, I would say absolutely it’s going to happen, the governor said he was all in for the new bridge and we need it for the economy.”
Governor Rick Snyder has secured $550million in funding from Canada for construction of the U.S. portion, plus a matching grant from the Federal Highway Administration. It’s all expected to be paid back with tolls from the bridge.
Baruah says it’s a no-brainer, “In the outside chance the tolls don’t repay back these loans the worst thing we have to do is pay back at a future date at a discounted rate.”
Experts say a new bridge is desperately needed for several reasons including a backup in case there’s another attack like 9-11. A recent snow storm that shut down the Bluewater Bridge caused a huge traffic jam at the Ambassador Bridge and this region is dependent upon just-in-time delivery otherwise local companies lose precious time and money.
Baruah told us, “The average auto part crosses the U.S.-Canadian border no less than a dozen times before it finally gets installed in that Chevy or Chrysler product that you and I drive.”
And gridlock in Windsor from Ambassador Bridge traffic can’t get any worse.
“There are 12 stop lights in the corridor between the 401 in Canada and the Mexican border,” Baruah told us, “And those 12 stop lights are all between the end of the Ambassador Bridge and Windsor.”
And Canada has already said expanding the ambassador bridge is not an option because of the negative impact on the Windsor community.
Paul Tait is the executive director of SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, “The new bridge at the international crossing going over roughly where Zug Island is, that bridge will allow trucks to bypass downtown Windsor to get to highway 401with a much more efficient crossing.”
Truckers we talked to agree wholeheartedly.
John Nakis thinks the new bridge is a good thing because when traffic is congested it makes the traffic lighter that makes things a lot easier.”
Trucker Richard Brooks says there’s no question there’s a lot of congestion coming in and out.
Paul Tait says there have been misconceptions about the proposed bridge, “That this is going to cost Michigan extra money, or it’s somehow un-needed.
Emma Brenson lives in Delray west of Jefferson and Harrington and will have to move. I’m not happy about it but since we’re moving forward that’s nothing I can do. I’ve been in this house 45 years”
Sandra Taylor, on the other hand, owns two rental homes in the area and says it’s the best thing for the community, “My tenants are very happy. They’ll pay them to move and they can put money down on a house if they choose to move. They’re really happy about it.”
And this is going to mean a lot of jobs for Michigan. With spin off jobs and construction jobs about 30,000 jobs will be created.
And in the state nearly 250-thousand jobs are based on our trade with Canada.