Ambassador Bridge owners appeal to Trump to intervene in construction of competing $2B US-Canada bridge
- The owners of the Ambassador Bridge, the primary U.S.-Canada border crossing capable of handling tractor-trailer traffic, have asked President Donald Trump to revoke the "Buy American" exemption granted to the Canadian government for purchases of steel during construction of the latter's $2 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge, according to Crain's Detroit Business.
- In 2012, the Federal Highway Administration relieved officials of the project, which will be delivered through a public-private partnership, of the obligation to purchase U.S.-made steel and iron. That is primarily because the Canadian government is not only financing its portion of the Gordie Howe bridge but also is assuming all financial risk and loaning Michigan $650 million for its share of construction costs. DIBC is arguing that this exception violates Trump's America First policy.
- The Morouns want to build a second bridge in addition to the Ambassador. They are pushing back against a Canadian government permit's requirement that it demolish the 88-year-old Ambassador Bridge within five years of completing a new bridge. DIBC claims it has spent millions on re-decking and that the Ambassador could be used for emergencies, operational vehicles and public events. The firm is looking for action from the Trump administration before the Windsor–Detroit Bridge Authority selects a group to design and build the Gordie Howe.
DIBC said its $1 billion replacement for the Ambassador will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America, but it has yet to secure all the necessary permits.
Because Canada is covering the upfront costs for the Gordie Howe and allowing Michigan to repay the $650 million loan from the tolls it collects on the U.S. side of the bridge, it's not likely that the president will want to make a move that could give America's neighbor to the north a reason to rethink its financial commitment to the project.
In addition, in a 2017 meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump reconfirmed U.S. support for the bridge, and both Trudeau and Trump promised to do whatever they could to expedite construction.
The Ambassador Bridge handles 27% of the $400 billion in annual trade between the U.S. and Canada but has been plagued with truck traffic backups that Canadian businesses are claiming cost them millions a year, according to the Windsor Star.
Meanwhile, the authority has pushed back selection of a design-build consortium for the Gordie Howe and the start of construction a few times due to land acquisition issues on the U.S. side and ongoing legal challenges. Selection is now slated for September, with completion scheduled for 2022 or 2023.
- Crain's Detroit Business Morouns appeal to Trump for help in Detroit River bridge battle
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