White House, Canada state support for new Detroit River span

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DETROIT (AP) — The White House and Canada issued a joint statement of support for a commuter bridge that when completed will span the Detroit River, connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The statement issued Thursday calls the Gordie Howe International Bridge “a top infrastructure priority” for both governments.

“We’re committed to continuing our support to ensure the project’s state-of-the-art ports of entry are fully funded so vehicles can begin crossing the architecturally stunning cable-stayed structure once completed for the benefit of our shared prosperity,” the statement read.

It comes as U.S. President Joe Biden and Republican senators try to work out a compromise over a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package. Seventeen GOP senators joined all Democrats in voting this week to start a debate to consider the bill. The plan includes $550 billion in new spending beyond the typical highway and public works accounts.

“This full-throated support of this vital bridge comes as President Biden and Congress continue to make progress on bipartisan and significant investment in transportation and other infrastructure,” Michigan Gov. Whitmer said in her own statement. ”The ongoing construction of this bridge has created jobs on both sides of the border, and will continue to spur economic development for many years to come. This bridge also affirms Michigan’s ongoing partnership with Canada, the top purchaser of U.S. goods among countries.”

In 2012, then-Gov. Rick Snyder and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper struck a deal calling for Canada to pay for the bridge after the Republican governor ran into opposition in the GOP-led Legislature.

The $4.4 billion ($5.7 billion Canadian) six-lane, span is expected to open in late 2024. It’s named for Gordie Howe, a native of Canada and hockey legend who starred for the Detroit Red Wings.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the Detroit-Windsor, Ontario, corridor was the busiest commercial land crossing on the U.S.-Canada border, handling more than 30% of truck-hauled trade. The privately owned Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel are the only current commuter crossings between the cities.

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