Detroit/Windsor visions of grandeur

DETROIT — While political officials mull over various ways to improve the border between Windsor and Detroit, one U.S. think tank is suggesting a grander vision.

Instead of merely fixing the border, John Austin – author of a new report about the Great Lakes regional economy – says the Canada/U.S. link could be an “architectural jewel” which serves as an icon for the entire economic region, reported the Windsor Star.

The Windsor Detroit border crossing is the busiest link between Canada and the U.S. Millions of vehicles and billions of dollars worth of goods travel along the route every year. There has been much debate regarding the crossing and new bridges, tunnel ownership, government studies, access roads, bi-national partnerships and several other developments still under development.

But according to Austin, the goal behind the improving the border should go beyond improving the flow of goods and people. In his report – written for Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution – Austin notes that a new crossing should announce that it marks the world’s largest and most important trade route.

Ontario and seven neighboring U.S. states – the integrated Great Lakes economy – would be the second-largest economic unit in the world if measured on its own, even larger than Japan, reports Austin. This fact should not be understated and the crossing should be marked by a 21st century crossing, according to Austin.

Austin describes the bridge between Windsor and Detroit as a mess and the complimentary tunnel, well not very complimentary. He says a new bridge could be not only functional but also exciting and beautiful.

Austin is a Michigan resident and a policy analyst and non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. He is on a tour of American and Canadian cities around the Great Lakes promoting the Brookings report, entitled The Vital Connection.

— with files from the Windsor Star

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