Editorial: Bridging our borders
New Windsor-Detroit bridge will be boon for industry
By Andrew Snook
July 31, 2017 – You might be surprised to hear that I haven’t always written for a living. Before changing careers and jumping into journalism several years ago, I worked in logistics for manufacturing and logistics operations in southern Ontario.
From running around warehouse floors picking orders and unloading containers to shipping and receiving and inventory management, I held various roles over the years helping ensure product X got from point A to point B in a timely fashion.
One of my final roles in the world of logistics was working as a route manager overseeing trucking lanes that supplied automotive plants in Canada and the U.S. Let me tell you, managing supply lines that run on JIT (Just-In-Time) delivery can be a stressful gig. Some of the more frustrating moments during my time as a route manager were dealing with the border delays that our drivers would experience when hauling parts between the U.S. and Canada.
And if you think it’s frustrating for a route manger, you should listen to some of the phone calls I received from contractors moving the loads – since we don’t use that kind of language in this publication, let’s just say they were a tad frustrated with the border delays.
So when I first heard about the possibility of the Gordie Howe International Bridge becoming a reality, my first thought was that it should do wonders for reducing border crossing wait times. That is, until I heard that the Canadian side had begun preliminary construction before the U.S. had secured the land necessary for construction on the American side of the bridge (insert palm slap to forehead here).
This news made me cringe twice: once as a former member of the trucking industry, and a second time as a Canadian taxpayer.
So in late June when it was announced that the State of Michigan had reached a US$48-million land deal with the City of Detroit for land needed for part of the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project on the American side of the border, I again rejoiced, but this time for three reasons: the two previously mentioned, and again for the people residing in the Windsor area and in northern Michigan. This mega-project is expected to generate thousands of construction jobs on both sides of the border for two regions that have been hard hit over the years due to plant closures.
The City of Detroit has announced that it plans on allocating the US$48 million it will receive from the sale – which will include 36 city-owned parcels of land, underground assets and about five miles of city-owned streets – to neighbourhood redevelopment, job training, and health monitoring for Detroit residents. Some welcome news for city residents, I’m sure.
The official construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge is scheduled to start in 2018.
This massive infrastructure project will build highway-to-highway connectivity between I-75 in Detroit and Highway 401 in Windsor, relieving congestion around the nearly 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge, reducing border crossing delays, hopefully saving both countries in lost time and revenue, while significantly reducing the idling times of trucks waiting to border hop.
Hopefully this bridge construction will mark the beginning of resurging economies in Windsor and throughout the State of Michigan.
Only time will tell.