Ambassador Bridge owner has no immediate plans to reapply for permit for 2nd span

The company that owns the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor, Ont., to Detroit says it has no immediate plans to reapply for a Transport Canada permit to build a second span for the key trade route. The permit expires in August.

Company concentrating on fixing current bridge as twin-span permit set to expire in August

This artist rendering shows what a second span of the Ambassador Bridge, linking Windsor, Ont., to Detroit, would look like. A Canadian company says it won't immediately be reapplying for a permit for a second bridge span as the permit expires in August. (Canadian Transit Company)

The company that owns the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor, Ont., to Detroit says it has no immediate plans to reapply for a Transport Canada permit to build a second span for the key trade route.

The Canadian Transit Company, which operates the Canadian half of the span, was issued a Transport Canada permit in 2017 to build the second span under the condition that construction begin within five years, but it expires Aug. 30.

"In terms of reapplying, circumstances could change that lead us to submit a new application, but we do not have a new application pending," said a statement from Esther Jentzen, a spokesperson for the company, which has also been dealing with another permit that has a condition that conflicts with the Transport Canada requirements.

The news isn't disappointing to some residents, including Dan Hussey of Sandwich Towne, the Windsor neighbourhood adjacent to the bridge.

"Wow, I think that was great. I don't think we need a second span," he said.

The permit Transport Canada issued calls for the more than 90-year-old bridge to be demolished when the new span is finished; but a permit issued by the U.S. Coast Guard requires that the old bridge remain in place.

The statement from the bridge company reads in part, "Transport Canada issued a permit that conflicted with the U.S. Coast Guard permit we had previously received. It did so knowing of the conflict and without consulting with the U.S. Coast Guard."

"In effect, Transport Canada's permit was not a permit at all, and it cost us time, money and effort. We have spent the last years diligently working on repairing our existing bridge and it is ready for the future. We will look for opportunities to grow and co-operate to ensure that this international trade corridor remains best in class."

Boarded-up homes owned by the Ambassador Bridge sit as eyesores in Windsor's west end. The homes were purchased for the second span project. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Another obstacle in constructing a second span is a discovery during the required archeological dig at the old Villa Maria nursing home site that turned up historic human remains in 2018. Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN) was notified and has taken over the investigation into the remains.

"We are continuing to work with the Walpole Island First Nation to address the Villa Maria property. WIFN must continue its archeological work and that will allow the issue of the remains on the property to be fully and properly addressed," wrote Jentzen.

Should a second span of the Ambassador Bridge ever proceed, it would be built just west of where it currently is located. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The permit also calls for a section of Huron Church Road from Wyandotte Street West to College Avenue to be used for the new span project, but the City of Windsor is opposed to that.

Politicians oppose 2nd span

Mayor Drew Dilkens said he's continuing to keep communication lines open with the bridge company.

"I went over to Michigan and met with [bridge owners] about a month ago to have conversations," said Dilkens. "We are not walled off from them. We are not closed off from trying to make sure that they understand what they need to do so that they satisfy the requirements of the city and that they're doing right by the people who live in the west side of the city."

Dilkens has said the city wants to make its concerns clear to the federal transport minister if Ottawa is asked to consider an extension to the permit.

Transport Canada has not given CBC News any indication, in a written statement, that it intends to extend the permit, and neither the mayor nor local MPs are in favour of it.

"I've had meetings with the City of Windsor and also have conveyed directly to Transport Canada our desire not to see an extension to that permit," said Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmiercyzk.

The mayor, Kusmiercyzk and Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse agree the bridge company has had enough time to comply with the permit.


Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is a video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print. He has received a number of awards including an RTDNA regional TV news award and a New York Festivals honourable mention.


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