Sandwich residents concerned about new Ambassador Bridge
Rich Garton, CTV Windsor
Published Friday, September 8, 2017 5:36PM EDT
Many residents in Olde Sandwich Towne are not happy about the federal government’s approval for a new Ambassador Bridge.
“If I had my druthers, I'd like to ask Marc Garneau, what the hell is he thinking?" says life-long Sandwich resident Terrence Kennedy.
Garneau, the federal Transport Minister, announced this week the approval of a permit, considered the last major hurdle for the construction of a new span.
Garneau, in announcing the approval, said “the Windsor-Detroit gateway is the busiest commercial land border crossing between Canada and the United States. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring sufficient capacity to maintain an efficient trade corridor that can handle trade and traffic growth for the long-term, benefitting Canadians for generations to come.”
“As a key component of the Windsor-Detroit gateway, the 87-year old Ambassador Bridge is important to the economic well-being of the region, particularly to the automotive industry and for daily commuter traffic between Windsor and Detroit, and needs to be replaced,” added Garneau.
With a new bridge and customs plaza in the heart of Sandwich, Kennedy feels it will cut the historic neighbourhood off from the rest of Windsor.
“The people of Sandwich Towne are being pushed out,” says Kennedy, who has been one of the most vocal crusaders against the bridge enhancement project. “This is literally going to be an island.”
The Detroit International Bridge Company says the new Ambassador Bridge will be built faster than the downriver Gordie Howe International Bridge, and for less than half the cost -- with their own money, no taxpayer funds.
President Dan Stamper tells CTV Windsor they are motivated to get a new $1-billion crossing built by 2020.
But Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says construction cannot begin right away.
“There are still a number of hoops and hurdles the Ambassador Bridge needs to satisfy for the permit,” says Dilkens.
Those hoops include improving local infrastructure, creating new public green spaces, and protecting the environment and considering indigenous interests.
The 87-year-old original bridge would also be torn down.
As for the ongoing court battles between Windsor and the bridge company, the City's legal team is reviewing whether to proceed or abandon them.
The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority says the decision involving the Ambassador Bridge has no impact on the $4.8-billion, government funded Gordie Howe bridge. Chair Dwight Duncan says the study that led to the approval of the Gordie always envisioned two bridges servicing the area.
But Duncan insists this is not a race.
These are large projects, and the conditions the Morouns are faced with it's going to take them some time,” says Duncan.
The WDBA says bid work continues and in 2018, it will choose a private sector partner to build, finance, operate and maintain the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Duncan hopes it will be ready in 2022, but that will depend on the private sector partner.