Detroit River International Crossing

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Excerpted from Windsor Star editorial Lakes Summit June 21, 2011

Today, about 250 individuals from business, government and non-profit sectors will meet in our community to lay out a game plan for the future of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. As much as it is a discussion, the summit will hopefully set the stage to ensure a climate of prosperity and health for our children and their children…

As a whole, the Lakes region represents the fourth largest economy in the world -$4.6 trillion in economic output in 2009. More than $2 billion in good and services goes back and forth across the border every day, including $356 million through Windsor-Detroit.

That trade is also the reason the region needs a modern, publicly owned bridge built on Detroit River. And the case for a new bridge was eloquently argued by former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard and Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and senior strategic adviser with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, also in the Post last week:

“But the 105 million people living in the region today need their respective governments to continue to work together on the border. To remain the world’s fourth largest economy, the region needs a second Detroit-Windsor crossing.

“The Canada-U.S. Auto Agreement set the course for the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and subsequently NAFTA, back in 1965. Our most integrated trade industry by far, the production and assembly of automobiles is concentrated in the Great Lakes region. This ‘industry of industries’ draws in hundreds of feeder manufacturers in dozens of locations in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

“But the top priority has to be the construction of a second bridge between Windsor and Detroit. In the 7,000 trucks that daily cross the Ambassador Bridge are contained over a quarter of the goods traded between Canada and the U.S. Any interruption in traffic on this 80-year-old, privately owned bridge means layoffs: thousands in the first day and tens of thousands stretching south to the Carolinas by day two. Resiliency, national security and the national interest of both countries requires us to build a second crossing, the new International Trade Crossing.”

All that’s needed for the much-needed project to get underway is the final approval of Michigan lawmakers. We hope the new bridge -which governments on both sides of the river have been planning for years and is literally shovel ready -figures prominently in the important discussions that will take place over the next two days.

Excerpted from Windsor Star June 21 Michigan DRIC vote delayed until fall Politicians slam Ambassador Bridge ‘misinformation’ campaign By Doug Schmidt

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are trying to block construction of the proposed downriver public crossing in favour of their own proposal to twin the existing, private span that is over 80 years old.

The summit, being hosted by the Toronto-based Mowat Centre and the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, is being held to look at ways to untap the economic potential of a region that, if it were a country of its own, would boast the world’s fourth-largest economy.

“It’s crazy that the world’s greatest trading relationship is being held up in the way it’s being held up,” Mowat Centre director Matthew Mendelsohn told The Star.

“It’s real, real important that we win this battle,” William Rustem, Gov. Snyder’s director of strategy, told one of the summit sessions.

“We have to be optimistic — certainly on the Ontario side, we’re ready to go,” said cabinet minister Smith.

Colin Robertson, a career foreign service officer and senior research fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, told delegates he was recently in China where “they built a bridge in six months.” Referring to the 10 years of debating a new Windsor-Detroit crossing, he said: “The rest of the world is not waiting for Canada and the U.S. to get its act together.”

The summit concludes Wednesday.