05/13/2013 02:05 EDT | Updated 07/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Second span Ambassador Bridge proposal elicits letter from Windsor mayor

WINDSOR, Ont. - The company that owns the busy Ambassador Bridge between Canada and the United States is being warned by Windsor's mayor to back off plans to build a twin span.

Eddie Francis has fired off a letter to the Canadian Transit Company over its latest proposal to twin the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest international border crossing in North America.

The U.S. government last month approved construction of a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., which is expected to relieve congestion and speed up trade at the border, but it is in a different location, south of the existing crossing.

Meanwhile, the owner of the 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge — Manuel (Matty) Moroun — has been trying to get his own plans off the ground to build a twin span across the Detroit River, and has filed lawsuits challenging the other project.

Francis, who opposes the twin span idea, says he met with the bridge company's president Dan Stamper last winter and plans were made to improve derelict neighbourhoods where homes were purchased by the company to make room for the second span.

Francis says the company and the city agreed to work together on the problem, as long as discussions of a possible second span were taken off the table — but now the company is trying to complete an environmental assessment approval for the twinned bridge.

That introduces a new element to the talks that would not be conducive to reaching a solution for the empty, boarded up homes in the city's west end, Francis says.

He says he's willing to continue talks that do not involve or help the bridge with its twinned span proposal.

A permit awarded by the U.S. Department of State last month allows Michigan and Canada to move forward with the new bridge over the river. Construction could start in 2015 or 2016 and be finished by 2020.

(CKLW, The Canadian Press)