Different leader…same priorities for Canada

Duncan says Gordie Howe bridge remains Canada’s ‘top infrastructure priority’

build_the_bridge_artwork_transback.pngDAVE BATTAGELLO, WINDSOR STAR

More from Dave Battagello, Windsor Star

Published on: January 13, 2016 | Last Updated: January 13, 2016 9:50 PM EST

Dwight Duncan appointed chairman of WDBA Video:  http://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/duncan-says-howe-bridge-remains-governments-top-priority

The new chairman of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority said the Gordie Howe International Bridge project remains on schedule to open by 2020 despite delays to release a short list of finalists to build the project.

Dwight Duncan said by phone Wednesday his recent discussions with high-ranking leaders of the new government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau affirmed the new Detroit River bridge project remains Canada’s “top infrastructure priority.”

“The prime minister has been briefed and (Infrastructure) Minister (Amerjeet) Sohi toured the site,” he said.

“They understand how this is such an important economic opportunity for Canada to move forward on. Be assured the government is moving forward on this.”

Duncan last month was named WDBA’s interim chairman after former chairman Mark McQueen — who had strong tied with the former Stephen Harper government — stepped down. It is anticipated the Liberal government will keep Duncan in place for the years ahead.

Dozens of required properties in southwest Detroit — to make room for the Howe bridge and plaza — have already been purchased, said Duncan, further enhancing progress on the project.

A recent push by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun in acquiring needed lands and federal permits for his competing twin span proposal have no impact on the government-backed Howe bridge, he said.

The bridge company this week announced the $1.2-million purchase of the former Forster Secondary School on Windsor’s west end. Across the river, the company is in the final feedback period of securing a U.S. federal permit for a new span from the U.S. Coast Guard.

“That has nothing to do with what we are doing,” Duncan said. “You have agreements in place of four governments for the Gordie Howe bridge. Every study showed you need a second crossing for additional capacity. This is needed either way, despite what (Moroun) is doing.

“The Gordie Howe bridge is vital, that’s what the WDBA is focused on. We have been given clear orders from the (federal) government to move this project along.”