Better Roads Staff
Indeed, to truly comprehend what border crossings mean to the immediate populace is to understand that people on one side of a river will line up every single day just to head off to work, to shop, to socialize, to even just go to a ball game on the other side. They may be from different countries, with different cultures, but there is a common community for folks on both sides.
In southeast Michigan, for instance, there is such a nursing shortage that hundreds of nurses drive across from the Windsor side every single day, says Calley. A massive snowstorm last winter shut down Highway 402, the Canadian freeway that runs to the Bluewater Bridge at Sarnia-Port Huron, shifting even more truck traffic than normal further south to the Ambassador Bridge and thus heavily backlogging the crossings in the Detroit-Windsor area. Hospitals in Michigan depending on the 24-hour care provided by nurses were left in a near-crisis situation as many of those nurses sat snarled in traffic.
The same storm caused a U.S. auto plant to temporarily shut down – its production parts stuck at the border. “That’s a big deal,” says Calley. “The impact of these crossings is far and wide. Our economies are so intertwined that as far as I’m concerned there’s not an interest for Michigan that is substantively different than the interest Windsor and really that whole side of the bridge has. Our destinies are tied together.”
One in eight jobs in the immediate southeast Michigan region depends on trade with Canada, and incredibly that rate jumps to one in seven a few hours away in western Michigan. A new bridge will not only secure future growth by removing a trade barrier, says Calley, but will protect the 230,000 current jobs in the state that depend on cross-border trade. “We’re in a very risky situation where we have one bridge that handles so much of that now. If there was anything that even for a short period of time shuts down the Ambassador Bridge, there would be a catastrophic economic collapse.
“I don’t think you could overstate how dramatic the impact would be on the Michigan economy.”
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