New bridge crossing funding from Feds encouraging, says expert
Local cross-border transportation expert touts increased federal funding "expected" but "encouraging"
The federal government is boosting southwestern Ontario in this year's budget, but it wasn't a surprise, especially the funding announced for a new bridge linking Canada and the United States.
That's according to Bill Anderson, the director of the Cross-Border Institute in Windsor.
"It's still nice to see that money in a current budget," he said. "It means certain things can start happening."
That includes the recent announcement that Ottawa would soon begin purchasing properties in Michigan for the bridge project.
But, Anderson said the spending doesn't come without a certain amount of risk.
... If you have a better bridge and less delays, it means our access to the U.S. is that much better.- Bill Anderson, director of the Cross Border Institute
"It's a signal to the American government the Canadian government is not going to sit back and wait until they appropriate money in Congress for what small part of this project they have to pay for," he said. "It's a bit of a leap of faith because it means we're spending the money on the expectation the U.S. government is going to come through with what they need to come through with, which is about $250 million."
Anderson told CBC News the $631 million over the next two years to help build a new Detroit-Windsor crossing was encouraging, especially since the commitment is up from last year's budget, which offered a commitment to spend $25 million over three years.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reinforced the economic benefit of having a second international crossing.
"Canadian goods will get to market faster, allowing businesses to grow, expand trade and help secure a prosperous future," Flaherty said Tuesday.
That sentiment is echoed by Anderson, who emphasized Windsor is geographically remote in Ontario, but benefits greatly from our proximity to the United States.
"We're very well situated relative to cities and industrial regions in the Great Lake states, so our ... advantage really depends on our access to the United States," he said. "If you have a better bridge and less delays, it means our access to the U.S. is that much better."
Anderson said the benefits will be even more prominent, considering the new bridge ties into the Herb Gray Parkway, meaning, anywhere along the 401 is effectively linked to the border without delays.
The government estimates the Windsor-Detroit trade corridor handles roughly 30 per cent of Canada-U.S. trade made by truck.