I was at a meeting recently organized by the African Caribbean Chamber of Commerce of Detroit at which the Canadian Consul-General to Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, the Hon. Roy Norton was the guest speaker. Consul-General Norton outlined the value of trade traveling between the U.S. (Michigan)and Canada on a daily basis.
We are all familiar with the story of that bridge to nowhere that was never built in Alaska. The bridge to somewhere is named as the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Canada. Many of us have travelled that bridge. For some, it is part of a daily commute as residents of Canada who work in Detroit, go back and forth daily. Likewise Americans who work in Canada for either of the Big Three do the same.
Most members of the audience who were present at the function, are familiar with TV advertisements airing in Detroit which paint the proposed new bridge as a demon to be despised. In fact a proposal is on the Michigan electoral ballot, this coming November asking Michigan citizens if they believe a new bridge is necessary. I’d like to tell you some facts that might cause you to rethink Proposal 6.
The Ambassador Bridge, like many bridges of its kind was originally built in the 1920′s and was built to last for 50 years. It’s now 83 years old. It means even if we do not want to build another bridge immediately (and I don’t know why we wouldn’t) we cannot expect it to last another 50 years. Canada is proposing to build this bridge at their cost. They expect to make a return on their investment from tolls collected from motorists. You might be saying what’s the problem, the current owners of the Ambassador Bridge are collecting as much as seventy million ($70M) in revenue annually, they are reluctant to loose revenue of that magnitude. As usual it’s all about the Benjamin’s, (the U.S, $100.00 bill). Canada is not proposing scrapping the Ambassador Bridge they are simply saying let’s have another bridge that can reasonably accommodate the volume of trade between the two countries.
If the bridge isn’t built producers and manufacturers will seek other alternate routes to take their products to market. It means other border towns like Buffalo, New York might see an increase in trade traffic. Michigan could loose the revenue generated from the 8000 trucks per day that travel this route.
The current Governor of Michigan supports the idea of the bridge. I was amazed that support for the bridge came from both sides of the aisle, Democrat & Republican alike. This is a bridge going somewhere. Not only does it protect the largest share of the trade form this border crossing, (approximately 25% of the trade between the U.S. and Canada travel via the Ambassador Bridge) but it also will help allay some security concerns between both nations. For those of you who live outside the area, there’s another border crossing 60 miles north east of Detroit. But that would mean companies like Chrysler would have to drive 120 miles to make 1200 border crossings per day. The new bridge is a twelve mile run in both ways. This facilitates ease of commute for the big three automakers who have plants in Michigan and Canada. For anyone who lives south-eastern Michigan, it means trucks from Jefferson North, Sterling Heights and Auburn Hills would have to drive to Port Huron instead of making the trek to the Ambassador bridge. Chrysler, for instance operates on a just in time model. It means their products have to arrive at the specified destination within the time frames stated.