Minister reaffirms federal commitment to Gordie Howe International Bridge
The federal Infrastructure Minister is reaffirming the government’s pledge to build the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
Amarjeet Sohi was in Windsor Tuesday to see the progress of the multi-billion dollar project. Sohi first visited the construction site shortly after the Liberals formed the new government in 2015.
A lot has changed since then, but the minister says one thing that hasn't is the government's commitment to the project, which has been challenged by delay and internal leadership changes.
The delay happened when the request for proposals was pushed back by six months, in part to allow more time for proponents to prepare bidding documents, but also to allow officials to acquire outstanding property stateside.
“It would not be a responsible approach for the government to proceed ahead with a large project such as this without having certainty whether we will have the property to actually build this project on," said Sohi.
At this point, the Michigan Department of Transportation has 85 per cent of necessary properties purchased.
“We're totally confident the properties will be available to the proponent, the project company, when they're needed for construction," added Andre Juneau, the new CEO of the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority after he replaced Michael Cautillo In October.
2017 also saw the Liberal government approve a new Ambassador Bridge project to replace the existing 87-year-old span.
Sohi repeated redundancy was always part of the business case.
“We don't see any reasons that the existence of the Ambassador Bridge in any way hinders the building of the Gordie Howe International Bridge,” said the minister. ”Our commitment to build the bridge is unwavering, that we're moving ahead... sometimes run into potential barriers and hurdles, but we have overcome all of those challenges."
Traffic volumes at the Ambassador Bridge has been one of the arguments for two spans over the Detroit River. But stats released Tuesday show a huge drop in crossings.
Stats show 12.2-million vehicles crossed the bridge in 2000. In 2017, only 6.9 million vehicles crossed. That's a 44 per cent decline.
But Sohi says he's hoping the Gordie Howe bridge will alleviate some bottleneck traffic and improve trade between our two countries.
Sohi, who is also attending Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's final state of the state address on Tuesday night, added he is not concerned about who replaces Snyder in office.
“It is in our mutual interest, regardless of the changes at the political level, to build this bridge."
Officials expect construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will ramp up this summer after a successful proponent is chosen in June.