POLITICS

Federal bill introduced to expedite construction of new Windsor-Detroit bridge

10/18/2012 04:35 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST
WINDSOR, Ont. - The latest omnibus budget bill from the Harper government includes legislation aimed at expediting construction of a new international bridge between Windsor and Detroit.

Transport Minister Denis Lebel says the construction of a new bridge will strengthen trade and generate new investment, and is a top priority for the federal government.

The Bridge to Strengthen Trade Act includes the establishment of a crossing authority by Canada as stipulated in the Canada-Michigan Crossing Agreement signed in June.

Canada and the U.S. operate the largest trading partnership in the world with almost 400,000 people and almost $2 billion in goods and services crossing the border every day.

The vast majority of bilateral trade crosses the border by land — much of it at Detroit-Windsor.

The government says the new Detroit River international crossing will speed up the movement of international trade and ensure the strategic corridor remains efficient and secure.

"We are working to advance the project as quickly as possible to ensure continued job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity," Lebel said Thursday.

Local officials said the new crossing will enhance the region's economic potential, make area manufacturers more competitive and create new jobs in Windsor and Essex County.

"Many businesses in Chatham-Kent and Leamington depend on an efficient Windsor-Detroit border," said Dave Van Kesteren, MP for Chatham-Kent—Essex.

The new bridge will also reduce congestion at the border crossing, and is expected to generate thousands of construction jobs in Ontario and Michigan.

Under the legislation, the new bridge will be built by the private sector under a Public-Private Partnership.

The new legislation exempts the construction of the bridge from a number of federal laws under which permits, approvals or authorizations would normally be required.