A Quarter Million Jobs More Secure Thanks to Gateway Project

 

September 24, 2012
by Mike Brownfield
Office of Governor Rick Snyder

On Friday in Southwest Detroit, there was a sight for the sore eyes of the areas' residents: trucks traveling unimpeded from I-75 and I-96 to the Ambassador Bridge, rather than noisily idling on service drives and local roadways, spewing exhaust into the air. Now a series of onramps allows that traffic to flow smoothly from freeway to bridge, not from one neighborhood to the next.

It's a sight made possible thanks to the completion of the Gateway Project, undertaken by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) staff, consultants, and contracting crews. The project had been stalled for years due to legal wrangling with the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC).

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, who attended the project's grand opening, noted that the project's completion will greatly benefit the quarter-million Michigan workers whose jobs are supported by trade with Canada. However, he said, there is more work to be done:

Two-hundred-thirty-seven-thousand Michiganders have jobs that depend on trade with Canada... That quarter million Michiganders have more assurance, but it's not enough. One in 8 jobs in Southeast Michigan depends on trade with Canada. One in 7 jobs in West Michigan depends on trade with Canada, and this project goes a long way to securing that future.

But we know there's another big piece of that puzzle that needs to come together. Can you imagine any other place in the states where you have a metropolitan region such as this and would limit all commercial traffic and the busiest border crossing over just one bridge that is over 84 years old?

The missing piece in that puzzle? The New International Trade Crossing connecting Detroit and Canada. It's a project that will open the door for increased trade between Michigan and our neighbor to the north -- and that means more and better jobs for the state. The project will create 10,000 construction-related jobs, and it will lay the foundation for a stronger economy and a brighter future for Michigan. The best part is that under the agreement, the bridge will be built by private industry, and the Canadian government will pay for Michigan's portion of the project. Learn more at BuildThisBridge.com.

As for the Gateway Project, its completion was met with great relief from local residents. The Detroit Free Press reports:

"I'm ecstatic. It's been a long few years," said Victor Abla, who lives within view of the project... Abla said he developed asthma several years ago, which he attributes in part to the fumes from trucks idling near his home while they tried to navigate local streets on their way to the bridge."

MDOT provides more details on the work that led to the completion of the project:

The DIBC had been under court order for the past two years to complete their portion of the Gateway Project, including removing numerous conflicting structures and constructing additional dedicated public roads as agreed to in its contract with MDOT. When the DIBC failed to meet its portion of the contract, MDOT had no choice but to pursue legal means.

"The past few years have been challenging for MDOT and the residents of southwest Detroit," Steudle said. "We made a commitment to the taxpayers of Michigan that their investment would not solely benefit one entity and we delivered."

Today, that project is complete, a mere seven months after a Wayne County Circuit Court judge directed the DIBC to cede control of their portion of the $230 million project.

Read more at MDOT's website.