Secretary LaHood speaks out for the DRIC

Comments by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at a meeting of the Canadian American Business Council. June 10, 2010

“Looking ahead, we clearly recognize the need for a new Detroit River International Crossing.  This is, quite simply, one of the largest transportation trade corridors between the U.S. and Canada.

The current Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel carried over 120 billion dollars’ worth of trade between our nations in 2008 ­ over half of that in the form of U.S. exports to Canada.

In our view, upgrading this infrastructure, and expanding our capacity, is vital to our national goals for increasing exports and creating jobs.

And again, it speaks to the need for modern transportation infrastructure that maximizes mobility for cargo and people.

As we all know, this issue is before the Michigan Legislature, and we’ll need to wait to what see what they decide.  But I assure you we’ll continue to work on this, and review our options with Canada.

In any case, the key to our success in Detroit, in Windsor, and elsewhere, is cooperation ­ our ability to work together effectively across all forms of transportation.”

LaHood backs new Detroit to Canada bridge

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood supports plans for a new bridge linking Detroit and Windsor.

LaHood told reporters Monday that his department is waiting to see if the Michigan Legislature approves a measure allowing the state to enter into an agreement with Canada and a private developer to build a $5.3 billion span over the Detroit River

“We’ll watch it and see what the legislature does,” LaHood said. “We know how important this bridge is to our government and the Canadian government.”

Canada has offered $550 million to help finance the project, which is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs.

The legislature could vote on the proposal this week.

LaHood noted that since he took office, Michigan hasn’t had “any money and now that the Canadians have stepped up and said they are going to help pay for this is quite extraordinary.

“It means a lot to the Canadian government to have this bridge,” he said.

The move is opposed by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit International Bridge Co., who want to build another privately owned span.

LaHood said Detroit needs a new crossing.

“This is an important piece of infrastructure to continue the kind of relationship and friendship that we have had with Canada — not only on trade but on our ability to be connected to that country,” said LaHood, who has been working on the project since soon after he took office.