Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pose with construction apprenticeship students in Windsor, Ont. Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. The federal government says the Gordie Howe Bridge, a multibillion-dollar construction project to build a link between Detroit and Windsor, is officially underway. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Troy Shantz

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pose with construction apprenticeship students in Windsor, Ont. Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. The federal government says the Gordie Howe Bridge, a multibillion-dollar construction project to build a link between Detroit and Windsor, is officially underway. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Troy Shantz

Construction on Gordie Howe International Bridge officially underway

Trudeau says key link between Canada and the United States is officially underway

Construction on a multibillion-dollar bridge touted as a key link between Canada and the United States is officially underway, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Flanked by dignitaries from both sides of the border, the prime minister said the Gordie Howe International Bridge, currently slated to cost $5.7 billion, will be built over the next six years and operational by late 2024. He made the announcement at the beginning of a jam-packed day in Windsor, Ont.

Trudeau said the 2.5-kilometre bridge spanning the Detroit River will provide a critical conduit for commerce between the two countries, an issue he said has taken on increased relevance since the successful resolution of contentious free trade negotiations earlier in the week.

“I’m confident that integrated, two-way trade between Windsor and Detroit will only increase from here, which is a great thing for local communities and the national economy,” Trudeau said. “Shorter travel times, more efficient supply chains and better access to the U.S. market. The Gordie Howe International Bridge has been a long time coming.”

Trudeau said the bridge was always a priority project, but has taken on added significance since Canada joined the U.S. and Mexico in signing an agreement-in-principle on a free trade deal. The pact, dubbed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, has yet to be formally ratified.

RELATED: Canadians voted for a carbon tax, Trudeau says as provincial blowback grows

The road to Friday’s announcement has been strewn with political potholes that proponents have had to navigate at the state and federal levels.

The bridge has also survived multiple legal challenges from the private owner of the nearby Ambassador Bridge, who publicly appealed to U.S. President Donald Trump this year to revoke a presidential permit Barack Obama granted to greenlight construction.

Funding for the pricey project was also a hot-button issue until the previous Conservative government agreed to have Canada finance all aspects of the project. The move essentially saw the government do an end-run around state and congressional lawmakers south of the border who were holding up construction.

Trudeau said Friday he has spoken with Michigan’s outgoing governor, Rick Snyder, about “accelerating the timelines” for the Gordie Howe bridge.

“That’s very much how we’re focused on getting this done as quickly as we can for the people of Detroit, of Windsor and of both of our countries,” he said.

On Friday, Snyder was on hand to offer a public benediction for the project.

“This is a friendship of many, many years, and what better representation than the Gordie Howe International Bridge,” he said. ”Gordie Howe…set the benchmark for the hockey world. This bridge will set that benchmark for the Canadian-American relationship and for the rest of the world.”

Trudeau said the construction project will create an estimated 2,500 jobs and will lead to more sustained employment growth once completed.

He also touted the long-term trade benefits, saying a quarter of all trade passes through the Windsor-Detroit corridor as 7,000 commercial vehicles travel through the area daily.

The six-lane, cable-stayed bridge is expected to have a lifespan of 125 years.

Federal officials have said the business plan for the Gordie Howe bridge is based on having a second one nearby, and plans for such a project are already in the works.

Ottawa gave its blessing to a plan to replace the nearly 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge, located just down the river from where Trudeau spoke on Friday.

But the Liberals have placed strict conditions on the Ambassador’s successor, including requirements that the existing bridge be demolished. The owners of the Ambassador Bridge, the American Moroun family, have publicly stated that it could complete construction on the replacement before 2024.

Later on Friday, Trudeau met with union leaders to talk about the new trade deal. Gathered in a boardroom at a downtown hotel, he thanked them for their support through the difficult months of negotiations on the USMCA pact.

A short time later, standing amongst a group of several hundred of the workers on break at a local Chrysler assembly plant, Trudeau touted the new deal, saying that workers and their families always need to be at the centre of the agreement.

Trudeau also made a brief stop at a food bank to hand out turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Facebook/ The Open Door 24/7 Integrated Response Hub- Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin residents show support for 24/7 Integrated Response Hub

Wetaskiwin residents and City Council members showed support for Hub with positive signs.

25-year-old Rachelle Okrusko has been missing since Jan. 12, 2021. Photo provided by Wetaskiwin RCMP.
Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for missing woman

25-year-old Rachelle Okrusko has been missing since Jan. 12, 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
City of Wetaskiwin’s active COVID-19 cases drop below 100

Active COVID-19 cases in the City of Wetaskiwin are dropping.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy,’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

Most Read