Ambassador Bridge company wants 'Buy American' waiver reconsidered for Gordie bridge
The current link between Windsor and Detroit, the Ambassador Bridge, pictured from Windsor, Ont., on Nov., 26, 2010. (CP / Brent Foster)
The Ambassador Bridge Company is calling on Washington and President Donald Trump to reconsider an exemption granted to the Canadian government which will allow the Gordie Howe International Bridge to be built without the “Buy American” requirement for steel.
Bridge company president Dan Stamper released a statement asking why the Gordie Howe bridge project should receive a “Buy American” waiver from the US, while the Canadian government is imposing strict conditions on construction of the Ambassador replacement span. The waiver was signed by the Obama Administration.
“The Gordie Howe International Bridge conflicts with many of the current administration's policies," Stamper said in the statement. "We hope the US will level the playing field at the border."
In the original permit application to the Canadian government, filed by the bridge company in 2014, the new bridge was to be a “twin span,” with the old bridge to be used for emergencies and special events.
But the Canadian permit issued in September 2017 has a list of conditions, the most contentious of which call for the demolition of the existing Ambassador within five years of the new bridge opening. The permit also requires the bridge company to present demolition permits from both the US and Canadian governments before construction can begin.
As Stamper has stated previously, the bridge company wants the Canadian and US governments to figure out whether the current bridge will stay up, or get demolished. He says removing certain conditions will allow construction of the bridge to begin.
But Windsor West MP Brian Masse has taken exception to the bridge company’s recent comments.
“Let me begin by reminding you that the Canadian government is completely financing the build of the new infrastructure,” Masse noted in a latter penned to the Canadian Transit Company, the Canadian arm of the bridge company, referring to the Gordie Howe Bridge. “The Buy American waiver is part of those decisions to ensure a binational build.”
The New Democrat says the bridge company’s suggestion to remove the waiver is “not a reasonable way forward at this point” and instead suggests the bridge company follows suit and sources steel from Canada during the construction of their span.
“I urge you in your strongest possible terms to acknowledge your duty to consultatively work toward mitigating those impacts with appropriate investments in the community on a continuing basis,” Masse adds.
The Ambassador Bridge has stated construction of the privately-funded bridge will begin soon for their span and anticipate a completion date of 2020. Officials say the bridge will cost a total of $1 billion.
The government financed Gordie Howe International Bridge hasn’t committed to a final completion date or cost, but has indicated construction will begin in the fall of 2018 and could wrap up by 2022. Cost estimates range from $3 billion to $7.5 billion.