Mayoral hopeful would back Detroit-Windsor Jobs Tunnel plan

DETROIT — The man hoping to succeed current Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pledges he would support the Jobs Tunnel project as the solution to Detroit-Windsor’s border woes.

According to the Grand Rapids Press, Freman Hendrix — a former aid to ex-Detroit mayor Dennis Archer — is challenging incumbent Kilpatrick, who has in the past dismissed the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership’s Job Tunnel project. The plan would convert two rail tunnels under the Detroit River into a two-lane, trucks-only border crossing.

There are other proposals vying for consideration, including twinning the current Ambassador Bridge, and a separate idea of building a new span 3 kilometres southwest of the Ambassador.

This week, Kilpatrick caused a stir in the border region when it was reported he would entertain handing off the lease of the current Detroit Windsor Tunnel to US powerbroker and owner of the Ambassador Bridge Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who is bidding to take over the tunnel.

Maroun also announced recently he would commence plans to twin the Ambassador and create a new $200 million customs plaza in Detroit, where he hopes Canadian Customs would set up shop as well.

However, just days after the announcement, Ottawa as well as other stakeholders on both sides of the border, effectively put a wet blanket on such a plan. Anne McLellan, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, said she doesn’t like the idea of merging customs stations.

“We are not able under current laws or agreements with the US to have (Canada Border services Agency) carry out its responsibilities under US soil,” she wrote in a letter to Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis. “We are not seeking nay such arrangement in Windsor-Detroit.”

Under existing agreements with the City of Detroit, the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation, which manages the tunnel on behalf of both border towns, is the only entity positioned to renegotiate the remaining term of the lease, the DCTC says.

— with files from Grand Rapids Press

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