Reporting Kathryn Larson
(credit: Josh Chadwick/WWJ, artist rendering/Transport Canada) PART 2 of 3
Could a vote by the Michigan on a new bridge — be literally water under the new international crossing? WWJ’s Kathryn Larson went to Windsor, where Canadian Officials tell her they are confident that this bridge won’t be one to nowhere.
As the trucks barrel across the Ambassador Bridge, big plans are in the works for another span across the Detroit River.
“If there was no money to be had, the existing proponents of the Ambassador Bridge wouldn’t be fighting so hard to keep their monopoly,” said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis.
In his office, the city’s youngest mayor says the only hang up with the new international crossing is this upcoming Michigan election. But he’s not too worried about voters making what he says is the right decision.
“I think there’s a lot of confidence that people will be able to separate fact from fiction and when people are able to do that from that perspective, they’ll come to the conclusion that the right thing is to support a project that gets a shovel in the ground, that gets the economy and jobs created right away, that stimulates the economy,” he said.
The city of Windsor says already the International Bridge Project is a success story, and that’s because projects that are funneling into it — like the Windsor Essex Parkway — have created jobs. So far, 15 percent unemployment rate has dipped to 9 percent in the last year, and officials say those numbers will continue to fall as that bridge comes closer to a reality.
“Those are 12,000 jobs that are already at work. Those are 12,000 jobs that for the past year have been generating economic stimulus,” said Francis.
And as for Michigan jobs, Francis says there will be thousands more created on our side of the border.
“At the end of the day, I haven’t heard an argument yet that basically says that we should not do this because we don’t need the jobs. I think everybody agrees that we need the jobs. I’ve not heard an argument that says we shouldn’t do this because we don’t need this economic safety net of good infrastructure for the medium or long-term. Nobody said that because everybody understands and recognizes that it’s important,” he said.
As for payment for the bridge, Francis says it’s payback time.
“When the Blue Water Bridge was built in Port Huron, the U.S. Government and the state of Michigan advanced Canada the funds. So, this is our way of saying, you know, you’ve done it for us and now we’re doing it for you. Canadians didn’t get taxed, Americans don’t get taxed,” he said.