Canadian officials move ahead with bridge connector work

Detroit Free Press

By JOHN GALLAGHER

The future of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed New International Trade Crossing bridge may still be uncertain, but Canadian authorities are moving ahead anyway with the all-important connecting roadway from that future bridge to a key Canadian highway.

Canadian officials broke ground this month on the $1.4-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway, which is planned to link the new bridge, 2 miles downriver from the Ambassador Bridge, to Canada’s 401 expressway.

The parkway has been described by Canadian authorities as a once-in-a-generation undertaking. It’s a 6.8-mile freeway that will separate local and international traffic and eliminate stop-and-go traffic in residential areas by bypassing the majority of traffic lights on Windsor’s Huron Church Road, now the main route to and from the Ambassador Bridge.

The parkway is to include 11 tunnels and 11 bridges, along with miles of green space and recreational trails along the edges.

Critics, though, wonder whether the much-anticipated highway will become the “road to nowhere” if Michigan legislators balk at approving Snyder’s plan for the NITC project. Snyder and Canadian authorities have expressed confidence that the NITC will be built, bringing thousands of construction jobs to both sides of the border.

But Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun continues to battle to defeat the NITC, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash to Michigan legislators and filing lawsuits in both nations in an effort to stop the project.

Barring any problems, the Windsor-Essex Parkway is scheduled to be open to traffic in fall 2014, with landscaping and other related work being finished by summer 2015.