Trump and Trudeau Talk Gordie Howe Bridge

Howe bridge highlighted during Trudeau-Trump meeting


More from Dave Battagello, Windsor Star

Published on: February 13, 2017 | Last Updated: February 13, 2017 4:17 PM EST

The Windsor and Essex County region can breathe a little easier after gaining recognition during Monday’s high-profile meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge was featured as the only infrastructure project mentioned in a joint statement released by the two leaders, while they also endorsed the value of continuing the booming Canada-U.S. trade relationship which is critical to Windsor’s economy.

“The United States and Canada recognize the importance of cooperation to promote economic growth, provide benefits to our consumers and businesses and advance free and fair trade,” said the joint statement.

“Given our shared focus on infrastructure investments, we will encourage opportunities for companies in both countries to create jobs through those investments. In particular, we look forward to the expeditious completion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will serve as a vital economic link between our two countries.”

The Howe bridge mention will be reassuring to regional business leaders who count on the Windsor-Detroit crossing which handles 25 per cent of all trade between the two nations.

Rendering shows one possible cable-stayed concept of the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge.COURTESY OF WINDSOR-DETROIT BRIDGE AUTHORITY

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority Chairman Dwight Duncan was “delighted” to see the Howe bridge mentioned so prominently in the joint statement.

“It was the only project referenced,” he said. “I’m very happy and this confirms what we have been saying that despite the change in (U.S.) administration this project would be a go and top priority for both governments.”

Given how the bridge project was also so highly placed in the Trudeau-Trump statement also bodes will for the push to get the Detroit River crossing project done, Duncan said.

The planned six-lane Howe bridge should see construction begin some time in 2018 after a project contractor is selected at the end of this year by bridge authority.

Construction is expected to take about 42 months with completion likely to occur in 2022.

The joint Trudeau-Trump statement also noted how Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 U.S. states with more than $2 billion in two-way trade “flowing across our shared border every day.”

“Millions of American and Canadian middle-class jobs, including in the manufacturing sector, depend on our partnership,” the statement said.

“We affirm the importance of building on this existing strong foundation for trade and investment and further deepening our relationship, with the common goal of strengthening the middle class.”

Windsor-Essex Chamber CEO Matt Marchand said the local area — where thousands of jobs are connected to the U.S. — should be at peace following the meeting.

“The U.S. president and prime minister talking about the importance of trade between the two countries was heartening to hear,” he said. “Obviously it was a good sign this administration will value the relationship with Canada — not just with trade, but as friends and allies.”

The fact Trump acknowledged the importance and his belief in the trade relationship “should go a long way in restoring confidence and end any concerns of a trade war,” Marchand said.

Topped off by the Howe bridge being prominent in the statement, the meeting certainly turned out to be “very positive for the Windsor-Essex County region,” he said.

“It’s clear the (Trump) administration was very well-briefed on the importance of the relationship between the two countries,” Marchand said. “That’s a credit to our diplomatic corps and their preparation for the meeting. Their efforts clearly paid off here.”