A Long-Awaited Presidential Go-Ahead…for a Bridge

The Wall Street Journal

By Karen Johnson

Canada finally received a long-awaited U.S. presidential permit Friday–just not the one that many in Canada have been waiting for.

The U.S. State Department Friday gave the state of Michigan the green light to build, maintain and operate a bridge spanning the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. In a release, the State Department said the new international trade crossing “would serve the national interest.”

Some Canadians—including the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper– are anxiously awaiting another presidential permit—for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension that would bring heavy crude from the oil sands of Alberta south to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would help ease transportation bottlenecks that have been weighing on the price of Canadian oil.

The Detroit-Windsor bridge would be the third international connections between the two cities, joining the 84-year-old Ambassador Bridge and the 83-year-old Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. Those two links are the busiest, and second-busiest, border crossings in North America, respectively, funneling tourists and trade between the two countries.

Canada agreed last year to provide as much as $550 million to build the new six-lane bridge, which would relieve congestion at the border. Under the deal, the private sector will cover the rest of the costs, sparing the already stretched Michigan taxpayers from having to pony up.

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