Great Lakes members of Congress push Bridge Project

Great Lakes delegates try to get Trump’s attention with priorities letter

Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com By Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com

on February 13, 2017 at 5:55 PM, updated February 14, 2017 at 11:46 AM

Members of Congress representing Great Lakes states hope to grab President Donald Trump attention with a letter to the White House that outlines key regional priorities that delegates hope to work on with the new administration.

The letter, dated Feb. 8, was signed by 20 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, from the eight Great Lakes states in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It extends congratulations on Trump’s ascendance to the White House and outlines economic interests of the Great Lakes region like continued emphasis on pollution cleanup and new investments in maritime infrastructure.

The letter specifies the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the threat posed to the sport fishing industry by invasive Asian carp, and highlights the economic importance of upgrading the Soo Locks.

A leaked list of Trump infrastructure project priorities in the Great Lakes region include the Soo Locks, Detroit’s M-1 Rail streetcar transit system, and the new international bridge between Detroit and Canada.

“We expect the president will take our concerns seriously and have no reason to doubt that he won’t,” said Brian Patrick, spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force.

Patrick said the letter was sent directly to the White House, where he expects administration staff will help elevate the concerns to Trump, who, in the past few days, has been dealing with the test-firing of a ballistic missile by North Korea, the fallout from his attempt to ban refugees from seven Muslim countries and meeting with the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.

Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, Feb. 13 in Washington and the two issued a joint statement, released by Trudeau’s office, affirming a “longstanding commitment to close cooperation in addressing both the challenges facing our two countries and problems around the world.”

The statement includes mention of the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, of which the two leaders look forward to the “expeditious completion” of, as well as a pledge to move forward on “energy infrastructure projects that will create jobs while respecting the environment.”

The energy infrastructure statements follow the U.S. State Department’s Feb. 10 finding of no significant negative environmental impact from Enbridge Inc.’s permit application to boost capacity on its Alberta Clipper cross-border pipeline, which could move up to 800,000 barrels-per-day of tar sands oil from Alberta across North Dakota and Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin if approved.

The statement specifically mentions the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline, a controversial project blocked by Barack Obama, which Trump has revived.

“We also look forward to building on our many areas of environmental cooperation, particularly along our border and at the Great Lakes, and we will continue to work together to enhance the quality of our air and water,” read the statement.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/great_lakes_delegates_try_to_g.html

Gordie Howe is Good for the Great Lakes Region

Letter to President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau

OTTAWA, Jan. 27, 2017 /CNW/ –

His Excellency the Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C.

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.

Prime Minister of Canada

Langevin Block

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. President and Prime Minister:

The United States of America and Canada share a very special relationship that has been forged through commerce, combat, mutual aid in times of crisis, friends and family, and our mutual commitment to conserving the environment for future generations. As inscribed on the Peace Arch between Blaine, Washington and Douglas, British Columbia, we are truly children of a common mother and brethren dwelling together in unity.

As you begin to work together to advance the United States (U.S.) – Canada relationship under your leadership, the Council of the Great Lakes Region would like to offer the following observations.  We hope they are useful as you strengthen this unique bilateral relationship during your time in office.

The U.S. and Canada make things together. We innovate and learn together. Together our farmers feed our families and communities. It is a dynamic partnership that has led to one of the most important and successful economic relationships in the world. In fact, Canada is the top export destination for 35 states. The U.S. also accounts for 51 per cent of global investment into Canada.

Conversely, Canada is the biggest supplier of energy to the U.S., the second largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products to the U.S., and is a trusted and integrated supplier of inputs into U.S. manufacturing – automotive, aerospace, life sciences, information and communications technologies. Overall, Canada sells more to the U.S. in one year than to the rest of the world combined over three years. As a result, nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on Canada.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region is the heart and soul of this economic relationship. Home to 107 million Americans and Canadians, this binational region straddles the international border and encompasses eight U.S. states – Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Quebec.

Border crossings in the region comprise 74 per cent of the total value of imports and exports moving across all ports of entry between the two countries by rail, truck and pipeline. With a GDP of USD $5.8 trillion, if taken as a separate economic unit, the region would be the third largest economy in the world after the U.S. and China, supporting some 50 million jobs, or roughly one-third of the combined American and Canadian workforce.

Moreover, the region boasts one-fifth of U.S. and one-half of Canadian manufacturing. In 2011, the region accounted for nearly 24.1 per cent and 72.1 per cent of R&D funding in the U.S. and Canada and generated 26.2 per cent and 68 per cent of patents in the U.S. and Canada respectively in 2012. Furthermore, the region is home to 20 of the world’s top 100 universities.

As you consider the next steps in the bilateral relationship, our experience in the region shows that there is more we can do to modernize, align and in some cases eliminate duplicate regulations across sectors at the federal–state/provincial level that would create growth in the region and improve the ease of doing business by reducing red tape. Smart regulations do not equal less stringent regulations. To this end, the Council encourages you to continue and accelerate the work of the Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET) are multi-agency law enforcement teams that target cross-border criminal activity on land and in the marine environment through initiatives like Shiprider, a program that sees U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian law enforcement personnel jointly patrol shared waterways, including in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region. They have shown how we can effectively monitor and protect the longest border in the world. Therefore, IBETs should be expanded and strengthened.

Similarly, there is more that we can do to secure the border while pre-clearing and expediting the movement of legitimate people and goods, as well as sharing customs and border resources in joint facilities, as we try to institutionalize the “checked once, approved twice” approach to trade and mobility between our two countries.

The enactment of the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act by Congress in December 2016, coupled with a companion bill that is awaiting approval in Canada, provides the legal framework for establishing a modern, seamless border in an increasingly borderless global economy. Thickening the border as a result of duplicate inspection and enforcement or implementing tax measures at the border, would add billions of dollars in extra operating costs for business and government in the region and could have a cooling affect on bilateral imports and exports.

Over the last decade world trade in goods has increased dramatically from less than $8 trillion in 2003 to more than $18.5 trillion in 2013. Over the same period, trade in services has more than doubled, from $2 trillion to $4.7 trillion. This growth has been precipitated in many cases by specialized economic zones (SEZs), also known as Free Trade or export processing zones (EPZs), which now number in the thousands around the globe and can exist across international borders. Establishing a public-private Great Lakes FTZ between our two countries in the region would be a game changer for business and attracting investment, as it would create a favourable tax and tariff treatment regime across the entire region as well as provide greater flexibility in how companies warehouse and transport goods.

In the eight Great Lakes states, there are over 7.0 million SMEs, or 26% of small businesses in the U.S. However, only 123,249 of these firms exported goods in 2014, supporting about 1.7 million American jobs. The value of SME exports to Canada in 2015, the top export destination for most small firms in the region, was USD$110.8 billion. In the same vein, almost 60% of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada, many of them manufacturers, are based in Ontario and Quebec, supporting 6.4 million Canadian jobs. The destination for their exports is the U.S., which accounted for 88.1% of total exports of small businesses and 96.2% of exports of medium-sized businesses. However, only 21.3% of Ontario’s and 21.5% of Quebec’s SMEs exported in 2014.

Capacity constraints limit SMEs in tackling border regulations, understanding market opportunities, identifying appropriate partners and clients, and accessing capital or incentives. As a result, we must do more to scale up SMEs and get them export ready in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region through better market intelligence, as well as more targeted advisory and financial supports.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region consists of an expansive network of continental highways, bridges, airports and rail lines, 15 large international marine ports and 50 regional marine ports, and the bi-national Saint Lawrence Seaway and its 19 locks that together connect the region to the continent and industry to global markets in Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

However, this critical infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of renewal (e.g. the Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan). As well, new transportation assets need to be built to accommodate regional economic growth, build greater connectivity within the region and to world markets, and improve supply chain resiliency (e.g. Gordie Howe International Bridge and associated customs plazas).

Modernizing the region’s infrastructure presents a tremendous opportunity to put American and Canadian workers, capital and building products like steel to work for the benefit of both countries. Therefore, please work together to prioritize and invest in the renewal and construction of trade enabling infrastructure in the region using public-private partnerships, a viable means of addressing our shared infrastructure deficit at a time of constrained public budgets.

The binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is a strategic energy market in North America and transit corridor with assets in exploration, production, and distribution of fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy. In fact, the earliest record of energy trade between Canada and the U.S. dates to the construction of a cross-border electricity interconnection near Niagara Fall in 1901.

As both your governments consider ways to reduce toxic air emissions and shift to cleaning burning energy to fuel our homes and industries, there are opportunities to share more clean energy across the border, but we first need to establish an integrated electricity market and system for managing trade and reliability. Imagine the environmental impact and capital cost savings that could be realized for states in the Northeast-Midwest of the U.S. if Canada was able to export more hydropower or nuclear energy to these jurisdictions.

Over the last decade, we have witnessed the development of unique industry clusters within the region’s metropolitan areas including Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal, from life sciences and aerospace to robotics, food and water. A number of distinct cross-border, trade corridors also exist, such as Detroit-Windsor, Buffalo-Niagara, and Port Huron-Sarnia. There are many advantages to doing business within these clusters and corridors together in terms of economic development, science and innovation.

Countries that invest in incubating and accelerating discovery and supporting scientific breakthroughs will lead a knowledge economy that is being further defined by big data, analytics and cognitive computing. Our universities, industries, entrepreneurs, and scientists in the region’s corridors can be at the forefront of defining solutions to the world’s biggest social, economic and environmental problems. I encourage you to help unleash the full potential of these cross-border collaborations by removing barriers to shared science and innovation that are often engrained in our national granting councils and government programs.

Finally, the watershed of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, a defining feature of much of this economic region, is comprised of a number of vital freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems to both countries and the world. The Great Lakes themselves hold about 18% of the world’s and 84% of North America’s surface freshwater, supplying clean drinking water to over 40 million Americans and Canadians. In addition, estimates suggest that more than 3,500 species of plants and animals inhabit the Great Lakes basin, making it a unique and complicated ecosystem.

The U.S. and Canada share a long tradition of working together to protect and conserve ecosystems straddling the border through the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and the International Joint Commission and other mechanisms like the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It is worth noting that protecting our natural capital, such as the restoration of the Great Lakes, is one issue that continues to receive widespread bipartisan support in Congress and the House of Commons. Moreover, restoring contaminated sites and renewing brownfield developments also makes good economic sense, as some projects have shown a return of $15 in net economic benefit for every dollar invested by taxpayers.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a non-profit, non-partisan binational organization that was established in 2013 to deepen the U.S. – Canada relationship in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, and create a stronger, more dynamic culture of collaboration between government, business, academia and non-profit leaders in harnessing the region’s economic strengths while enhancing the well-being of the region’s citizens and protecting the environment for future generations.

We achieve this mandate by conducting insightful, evidence-based public policy research, convening diverse perspectives through events like the Great Lakes Economic Forum, and educating leaders about the importance of the region to the U.S. and Canada.

To this end, the Council stands ready to assist you in setting up the bilateral relationship for success over the weeks and months ahead and I would like to invite you to attend the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Detroit-Windsor from April 24-26, 2017. The Forum presents an opportunity for you to meet and solidify your priorities for expanding the U.S. – Canada partnership.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss the Forum and the binational the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region with you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Mark P. Fisher

c.c.

Mr. Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff, President of the United States

Ms. Katie Telford, Chief of Staff, Prime Minister of Canada

Power to the Gordie Howe

Energy project puts Gordie Howe between the pipes

Posted: Jan 27, 2017 1:08 PM | Last Updated: Jan 27, 2017 1:08 PM

WINDSOR–Ontario’s energy infrastructure has been enhanced thanks to the installation of 4.3 kilometres of new transmission and distribution natural gas pipeline installed as part of preparatory works at the Canadian Port of Entry (POE) for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

CAUTILLO ON THE HOWE BRIDGE: “Not just a transportation undertaking.”

Two high-pressure natural gas pipelines located within the footprint of the Canadian POE needed to be relocated to allow for the construction of the project.

The pipelines deliver natural gas to the Brighton Beach Power and West Windsor Power generating stations, which use the natural gas to generate electricity for the provincial energy grid.

WDBA worked closely with Union Gas Limited, the power generating facilities and the Ontario provincial Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to coordinate the changeover at the power plants to ensure there was no interruption to the energy grid.   

The $8.4-million project provides increased pipeline capacity to meet current and future energy needs. The project was completed by Union Gas Limited and paid for by WDBA.

With the completion of the natural gas pipeline relocation, WDBA has started the relocation of an extensive network of hydro-electric lines. Many of these transmission and distribution lines are currently located overhead and will need to be moved underground to accommodate further construction at the Canadian POE.  

Commented Michael Cautillo, WDBA President and Chief Executive Officer: “The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is not just a transportation undertaking. Preparing the Canadian and US sites for the bridge construction has resulted in enhancements to local infrastructure such as the new gas pipeline, the Broadway Drain and the new perimeter access road. WDBA is committed to ensuring that the project provides residents, businesses and communities on both sides of the border with economic and community development opportunities.”

Quick Facts

  • A total of 4.3 kilometres of new pipeline has been installed including 1.7 km of 50 cm diameter transmission pipe, 1.6 km of 30 cm diameter distribution pipe and one kilometre of 10 cm distribution pipe.
  •  The amount of gas moving through these pipes each day is equal to that used by more than a half million homes.
  • WDBA anticipates investing over $150 million to prepare the Canadian POE for the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Click here to see a video of the gas pipeline installation.

http://www.todaystrucking.com/energy-project-puts-gordie-howe-between-the-pipes

Trump could light a fire to move the Gordie Howe Bridge project forward

A bridge not far enough? Repairing roads and bridges comes with pros and cons

By Kathy Hoekstra – Watchdog.org – – Monday, January 9, 2017

A few months ago, a Detroit Free Press headline asked, “Will the Gordie Howe bridgeever get built?”

It’s a fair question for the $2 billion, publicly funded project launched more than a decade ago to relieve growing congestion on the Ambassador Bridge that connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Planners say construction could begin as soon as mid-2018.

If that’s not soon enough, how about this year? Or this spring?

A transition team adviser for President-electDonald Trump tells Watchdog.org that all it would take is “just a phone call from Trump.”

Norman F. Anderson is president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure and an adviser to the Trump “infrastructure task force.” That group is charged with prioritizing and coordinating the president-elect’s ambitious $1 trillion infrastructure program — that is, $137 billion in tax incentives used to lure the remainder from private investment.

Mr. Anderson said the task force already has identified 68 projects across the country that could begin this year — although he did avoid the term “shovel-ready” — for a total investment of $262 billion and the potential for 700,000 jobs.

The bridge would bear the name of the Red Wings immortal near the top of the list. Other examples provided to Watchdog.org are the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail, the Southwest Pass dredging project south of New Orleans, the Yakima River basin water pumping station and Veterans Affairs hospital construction.

Whom would Mr. Trump call to push the Gordie Howe International Bridge to the starting line?

Many who have followed the bridge saga would likely agree on billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun. He and his family own the 87-year-old Ambassador Bridge, which charges $5 for cars in the U.S. to cross. He has raised some of the biggest roadblocks to a publicly funded bridge that would compete with his family’s $60-million-per-year enterprise.

The latest gambit is a lawsuit claiming Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, is doing an illegal end run around the Legislature to get the bridge built.

Mr. Anderson demurred on the phone call speculation, saying the 2017 projects compiled by the task force all have the same unmistakable impediment to progress.

“All are projects that would be ready to go, simply lack the final approval, permit or push,” he said. “The point is that there are projects, many of them across all sectors, tied up in the soon-to-be former administration’s lack of leadership, willingness to take risks, and indecisiveness. And that’s not a political point. It’s just a fact.”

Mr. Anderson also chided the Obama administration for not having the right infrastructure professionals at the table, which led to misplaced spending.

“The failure of the Obama people to identify good projects and invest in those projects doesn’t logically mean there aren’t good projects; it just means that they sucked at it — radically underestimating the complexity, setting mediocre people to the task of execution and not following through,” Mr. Anderson said.

Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the free-market-oriented Mercatus Center, is equally critical of President Obama’s infrastructure efforts, especially his signature American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — the $800 billion stimulus package that kicked off his administration.

A 2011 Mercatus paper that Ms. de Rugy co-wrote, “Would More Infrastructure Spending Stimulate the Economy?” challenged the notion that a quick infusion of government money for infrastructure projects instantly creates shovel-ready jobs and jump-starts economic growth.

“President Obama had roughly $47 billion in direct infrastructure spending, and the idea was to invest it into ‘shovel-ready’ projects. And it would take the place of the private sector during the recession,” she explained to Watchdog.org. “And once the economy picked up, the private sector would then come back.”

The federal government’s final report in 2014 shows that $30 billion of that money went to transportation infrastructure, while the bulk of the rest went toward shoring up state and local governments and sudden paperwork-laden grant programs.

“President Obama himself had to acknowledge that there are just not that many ‘shovel-ready’ projects,” Ms. de Rugy said.

Ms. de Rugy said that even though Mr. Trumpaims to encourage more private investment through tax incentives, the plan likely will go down the same unsuccessful path. It’s not the mix of government and private spending, she said. It’s which projects are chosen and why, often a choice based on politics and popularity rather than merit.

A project as high-profile as the Gordie Howe Bridge is a no-brainer for investors, who can expect ribbon-cuttings, outsized press coverage and perhaps a cut of revenue. After all, the Ambassador Bridge pulls in $60 million per year.

But how eager are investors to fix crumbling highways in Detroit that get motorists to the bridge?

“One of the things we may actually need is maintenance. But I don’t think that’s what [Mr. Trump is] going to have in mind — to just do maintenance. It’s not that lucrative for the private sector,” she said. “So I think they’re going to find that the administration’s grand idea is going to be a whole lot of misallocation of capital or that there’s no amount of tax credit that can actually attract the private sector to do some of the stuff that would be useful to do.”

Another pitfall the incoming administration needs to avoid, Ms. de Rugy said, is considering government infrastructure spending a “jobs” program. It is a popular notion, especially among Democrats looking to recapture the votes of American workers who have defected to Mr. Trump.

“If we need to build infrastructure, try to get the highest quality for the lowest price and try to ignore the ‘economic impact’ or the ‘jobs impact,’” she said. “That’s not your reason to do it. It’s because you need it.”

Mr. Anderson blames infrastructure sluggishness on a market shackled by regulations, the “incompetent, slow and sleazy execution of studies” that cause endless delays, and leadership unwilling to challenge the regulatory status quo or revitalize the public sector.

Ms. de Rugy and Mr. Anderson agree, however, that time is of the essence.

“The infrastructure is a very, very bad tool to try to stimulate the economy in the short term,” Ms. de Rugy said. “It has to happen fast. And that’s actually really just hard to put in place.”

The ever-optimistic Trump team thinks not.

Delray residents near new bridge looking for a buyout

Jarvis: Detroit residents near new border bridge look to Canada for help

Jarvis: Detroit residents near new border bridge look to Canada for help

Cedric Jones stands in front of his home in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, on  Nov. 3, 2016.
Cedric Jones stands in front of his home in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

Share Adjust Comment Print

DETROIT — Beulah Jones was the first black teacher in Roseville, a suburb of Detroit. She worked all her life.

She didn’t drink, smoke or curse. She went to church until she wasn’t able to.

“I couldn’t ask for a better mother,” said her son, Cedric.

Yet Beulah spent the last 10 years of her life, until she died Aug. 31 at age 83, fighting for decency and respect from the people building the Gordie Howe International Bridge that will link Windsor and Detroit.

When the mostly black, Latino and low-income residents who live next to where the bridge is planned hear about the amenities on the Canadian side, they see a difference. And they don’t think it’s fair. They believe that Canada, which is leading the project, should also protect its foreign neighbours.

“We have this international project straddling these two communities, and when it lands on this side, it doesn’t have the protections that it has when it lands on the other side,” said Simone Sagovac of the community advisory group established by Detroit’s city council to advocate for residents. “We are looking for Canada to be leading in a way that will be fair on both sides of the border.”

Cedric Jones, of the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, on Nov. 3, 2016 holds a copy of minutes from a meeting at which he says he was promised his house and his mother's home would be purchased to make way for the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
Cedric Jones, of the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, on Nov. 3, 2016 holds a copy of minutes from a meeting at which he says he was promised his house and his mother’s home would be purchased to make way for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

What Beulah Jones faced defies belief. She lived on South Harrington Street, off West Jefferson Avenue. Her neighbours across the street, including her son and caregiver Cedric, were bought out. So was everyone on her side, up to her block. The land at the other end of her block is also part of the project.

That left Beulah and one neighbour, Vietnam War veteran Elmer Johnson, on a sliver of land.

Theirs were among about 50 houses in small, isolated clusters left dotting the boundaries of the planned truck plaza south of I-75 — the busy interstate highway that will connect to the new bridge.

Beulah had lived in her house for more than 60 years. She didn’t want to move. But she didn’t want to be left all alone.

“In a multibillion-dollar project, they’re nickel-and-diming these people whose lives are so impacted,” said advisory group member Gregg Ward.

“Have some morals,” Cedric said. “I don’t know no politicians, no higher-ups who would allow their mothers to live under those circumstances. If it’s not good enough for your mother, why is it good enough for my mother?”

Beulah spent her days calling the advisory group, the city, the state. Some people believe the stress hastened her passing.

“It made her have to worry about something she shouldn’t have had to worry about,” said Cedric.

Longtime Delray residents Albert and Myrtle Green talk talk about the impact of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project Nov. 3, 2016.
Longtime Delray residents Albert and Myrtle Green talk talk about the impact of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

Albert and Myrtle Green live several streets west, on Crossley Street. They bought their house in 1948. It was an industrial neighbourhood, but it was vibrant — Hungarians, Armenians, Italians and lots of kids. There was a house on every lot, schools and stores. The Greens ran a nearby variety store and lunch counter for 56 years.

The announcement of the bridge quickened the neighbourhood’s decline, said their daughter, Debra Williams, another member of the advisory group. People who could afford to move left. Landlords stopped repairing their buildings. Scrappers picked apart the remains. There was illegal dumping.

Now, the Greens’ house, with their garden of petunias and marigolds, is one of only two occupied houses on the block. They’re 89 now, married almost 70 years.

They’re five blocks away from the plaza. Still, “with my age and the surroundings,” Myrtle said quietly, her walker next to her chair, “I would like a buyout.”

She’s worried about more pollution, noise and isolation.

“I don’t think I could sell because nobody wants this,” she said.

“They worked hard to build the business,” said Williams. “They worked hard on their home. They pay their taxes. They’re good citizens. The time they have left, they should have a good quality of life and I don’t think that’s asking a lot.”

Debra Williams stands in front of her childhood home in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray on Nov. 3, 2016. Her parents still live there.
Debra Williams stands in front of her childhood home in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray on Nov. 3, 2016. Her parents still live there. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

Albert and Myrtle Green's former store is now closed in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray as shown on Nov. 3, 2016.
Albert and Myrtle Green’s former store is now closed in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray as shown on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

The north side of I-75 is one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Detroit. There are more children than in any other part of the city. They’re more than 70 per cent Latino and largely low-income. The ramps to and from the bridge and interstate will rise about 30 feet in the air — within about 100 feet of some homes. On the south side, traffic will exit I-75 and almost T-bone an apartment building before turning to go around it.

There will be noise walls between the service roads and interstate but nothing to protect all those families from the diesel particulate and noise from the steady stream of trucks on the ramps.

“It may be a small number of people, but they will experience a dramatic change in their lives,” said Sagovac.

The advisory group is calling for a minimum 300-foot buffer between the entire project and the houses. It cites studies showing that high levels of particulate from vehicles settle in areas within 300–1,500 feet of major highways, causing higher rates of heart disease, cancer, asthma and premature and low birth weight babies.

Particulate is the most harmful type of pollution, and it’s most dangerous within 300 feet of a major road. That’s where the smallest particles, which are carried deepest into the body, are concentrated. Children face the most risk, according to studies cited by the advisory group, because they breathe more air relative to their body weight than adults, are more active and are outside more.

Homes in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray are shown on Nov. 3, 2016.
Homes in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray are shown on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

Michigan can’t buy out more homes because there is no money in the state’s budget for the bridge. That’s why Canada is fronting the initial cost. The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, the Canadian Crown corporation building the bridge, is responsible for funding property acquisition only within the right-of-way, spokesperson Heather Grondin said in an email.

So Michigan state Rep. Stephanie Chang asked Infrastructure Canada for money for more buyouts. The answer was no.

“I understand their reason why,” said Chang. “They’re Michigan’s properties, and they’re not responsible for outside the footprint.”

She and others also understand that the neighbourhoods on the American side faced more challenges than those on the Canadian side before this project, and that Windsor fought long and hard to get the amenities along the Herb Gray Parkway that leads to the bridge site.

Still, she said, “the general idea of protecting people’s health, protecting people’s quality of life needs to be a priority on both sides.

“Obviously,” she said, “Canada plays a very large role because the funding is entirely from the Canadian side. I would say to Canadians and Americans with any giant development project that is going to have enormous consequences and bring a lot of economic benefits to both countries, we need to make sure the host communities on both sides are treated in a way that really protects their quality of life and makes sure people are reaping economic benefits.”

A sign marks a recently purchased piece of property in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge on Nov. 3, 2016.
A sign marks a recently purchased piece of property in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

The former Detroit River International Crossing study recognized that the new bridge would have a “disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority and low-income population groups.” But the impact will be “fully addressed,” said Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeff Cranson. There are “rigorous” guidelines for reducing noise, monitoring emissions, buffers and aesthetics. The final details will be determined after the builder is chosen, but “we have listened to the community and are confident that mitigation measures … will adequately address the community’s concerns,” Cranson said.

The bridge authority is also meeting with groups on both sides of the border and is committed to a crossing that is “respectful to neighbouring residents and businesses in Canada and the U.S., Grondin said.

Related

The Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS), an anchor in the neighbourhood for 40 years, is just south of I-75. Most of its patients are women and children, most without health insurance. Most live on the other side of the interstate and don’t have cars. They walk along Junction Street over the highway to get to the centre. But Junction will close to accommodate the ramps connecting I-75 to the bridge’s truck plaza.

Denise Pike, development director for the Community Health and Social Services Center in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, is shown at the centre on Nov. 3, 2016.
Denise Pike, development director for the Community Health and Social Services Center in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, is shown at the centre on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

A new pedestrian crossing will be built at Morrell Street 300 yards away. The state promises it will be wider, well-lit and maintained all year. Still, CHASS patients will have to traverse eight to 10 lanes of traffic. They’ll have to cross service roads on either side. They’ll land on the south side by a truck stop known for prostitutes. Some of them will do this pushing baby strollers.

“That would make me afraid,” said CHASS development director Denise Pike.

The bridge authority said it would consider putting stop signs or lights on the service roads, but their engineers told the centre it must request this in writing, Pike said.

“They’re designing the project,” she said. “They should make sure they’re not cutting businesses off from their customers. This has been made clear several times. It’s not as if (Michigan’s transporation department) and the (bridge authority) are not aware of it.”

Pike suggested that the project pay for transportation for some patients or extend the pedestian crossing across both service roads, but has the impression the state and the bridge authority won’t consider it.

An abandoned home is shown in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge on Nov. 3, 2016.
An abandoned home is shown in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

A destroyed home is shown in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge on Nov. 3, 2016.
A destroyed home is shown in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star

The offers being made for land needed for the bridge are also being questioned. On the Canadian side, Heritage Park Alliance Church in LaSalle received $17.9 million for its 15 acres when the parkway was built. The former Hellenic Banquet Hall in Tecumseh got $14 million for its 12 acres — like winning the lottery, its president said at the time.

Meanwhile, First Latin American Baptist Church in Detroit was offered US$411,000 for its smaller property.

“Canada’s approach to community benefits has been praised as an example to follow,” Pastor Kevin Casillas said in an email. “It would be a peculiar legacy for those overseeing the international project … to have millions of dollars to relocate churches (and) businesses on one side of the border, including $17.9 million for one church and funding to protect the eastern fox snake and Butler’s garter snake, but for some reason on the other side of the border, Latino and African American residents, businesses and churches end up receiving proportionately much less.”

Some Americans call this Canada’s bridge. It’s not fair to put everything on Canada, said Ward, who operates the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry. Users, not governments, will pay for most of the crossing through tolls.

But the people who will pay the most, potentially sacrificing their quality of life, will be those like the Greens and the women and children at CHASS, who live near it, he said.

And they’re expecting Canada, the country known for decency, the country leading the project and fronting initial costs, to take care of them.

“It’s embarrassing to say but I believe from my experience of 28 years at the border that Canada will take better care of residents than the U.S.,” Ward said.

“Protecting these people — it’s just right,” he said.

ajarvis@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/winstarjarvis

Elmer Johnson sits in front of his home in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, on Nov. 3, 2016.
Elmer Johnson sits in front of his home in the Detroit neighbourhood of Delray, near the site of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, on Nov. 3, 2016. Tyler Brownbridge / Windsor Star