Consul General for Canada in Detroit predicts a new government span will be built
The Consul General for Canada in Detroit believes a new bridge linking Windsor, Ont., and Detroit will be underway within three years.
“I arrived here a year ago with a mandate to get the bridge. I’m here for four years so I’m certainly counting on achieving that within the period of time,” Roy Norton said. “I think the bridge will be authorized and underway well before I leave Detroit.”
Norton represents Canadian interests in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. He said the bridge issue “consumes” him.
“In Michigan, I spend most of my time talking about the bridge,” Norton said.
He was scheduled to speak in the state capital of Lansing, where talks among politicians have stalled.
U.S. politicians delay bridge, again
The Economic Development Committee anticipated it would vote to send the bill to the Michigan Senate floor last week. It didn’t, leaving the bridge in limbo.
Norton said supporters of a new bridge shouldn’t worry.
“You shouldn’t pay too much attention to the ups and downs, slings and arrows of the US legislative process,” Norton said. “Here, and in Washington, where I was posted before, it’s legislative sausage at its worst. And it’s not a very pleasant process, but usually in the end it yields the desired outcome.”
Michigan politicians have at least twice delayed the vote this year.
“I don’t think the project will be derailed. It’s too important,” Norton said. “This is a matter of national and economic security for two G7 countries. There’s going to have to be a new bridge built.”
The privately owned Ambassador Bridge is nearly 90 years old. But the Canadian Transit Company, which owns the bridge, has been lobbying hard against a new government-funded crossing, which is scheduled to be built down river from the current crossing.
Construction well underway in Canada
Canadian governments are so confident a new bridge will be approved by Michigan politicians they broke ground earlier this year on a $1.5-billion roadway to accommodate traffic to the proposed new crossing.
“It’s not the case that there has been no progress,” Norton said.
Norton said now that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder got his budget passed, there is now time to focus on the bridge.
“They’re much better positioned to deal with it now than they were when he spoke (at his state of the State address) on the 19th of January,” Norton said.
Norton said it’s unlikely the U.S. federal government will ever intervene.
“The overriding principal for bridges built between Canada and the U.S. is that they are the responsibility of Canada and the receiving state,” Norton said.