Windsor Detroit bridge officials talk bike lanes and cost overruns
Officials overseeing plans for the Gordie Howe International Bridge, on Thursday, addressed concerns about bike lanes, environmental protection and cost overruns of the multi-billion-dollar project.
Dozens of people voiced their concerns at the first annual public meeting of the Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority, which plans to have the new crossing between Canada and the United Stated complete by 2020.
Protecting Ojibway Shores is a significant concern, according to bridge authority president and CEO Michael Cautillo, who attended the meeting at Mackenzie Hall Cultural Centre.
He said more than 100,000 species of at-risk plants have been relocated and he said that neither of the bridge's piers will be built in the water, so the impact on the river will be minimal.
Other work to preserve natural areas on either side of the bridge is also being considered.
"We're looking at landscaping, we're looking at green areas to try to minimize the impact of living beside a customs facility," Cautillo said.
He couldn't confirm the cost of the project would remain at the projected $2.1 billion. Government officials have warned that the costs could double to more than $4 billion because of the falling value of the Canadian dollar.
No matter what the final price tag, though, Cautillo said the successful bidder will have to absorb any cost overruns once they agree on a price.
Several people at the meeting, including Windsor West MP Brian Masse, were pushing to include bike and pedestrian lanes.
"Having bike lanes and pedestrian access for crossings is the norm, to not do it is an anomaly," he said. "So, this is an important part of making the structure community friendly for all of us."
Officials say they want to include bike lanes on the bridge, but such a feature will be contingent on getting governments on either side of the border to agree.
Security and customs concerns must be addressed before bike lanes could be considered, explained Dwight Duncan, the interim chairman of the bridge authority.
"Ultimately, we're going to have to lobby both governments on either side of the border to accommodate customs and immigration requirements they would have," he said.