Truck Road to Nowhere? Duncan vows Parkway completion

WINDSOR, Ont. – The $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway to the U.S. border will forge ahead as planned, despite a Michigan Senate vote yesterday that put a serious dent in the plans for a new international bridge.

Windsor MPP and Ontario Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, told the Windsor Star that yesterday’s Senate vote to shelve indefinitely a final decision on the so-called DRIC bridge will not affect Windsor’s truck bypass route to the border.

The six-lane, below grade roadway along the Huron Church Road-Talbot Road corridor was planned to end at the new bridge site in the Brighton Beach area in southwest Windsor.

Duncan said that he’s still confident that the bridge will eventually get built, but in the meantime, he says he can " guarantee the road will be built."

About $300 million has so far been spent on the Windsor-Essex parkway.

After hearing the news about the bridge vote yesterday, a coalition of local businesses, labor groups and pro-DRIC stakeholders called ‘Build the DRIC Now’ issued a statement expressing disappointment with how the Senate handled the legislation.

“Ten thousand construction workers and thousands of Michigan Businesses and their employees, who depend on trade with Canada, will have to look to the next legislature for support," said Tom Shields, spokesperson for the coalition.

Shields encouraged the government of Canada to keep on the table its $550 million offer to fund Michigan’s half of the bridge, and for the incoming legislative leadership to "make this project a top priority in 2011."

Meanwhile, Ambassador Bridge officials declared victory in this ongoing game of political chicken.

"Today’s actions in the senate only reinforce that the DRIC project is dead," Matthew Moroun, vice-chairman of the bridge and son of owner Matty Moroun was quoted as saying.

"We realize many bureaucrats in Michigan and Canada don’t like it, but those are the facts."

It’s been reported that Moroun’s heavy lobbying and major political contributions to legislators – largely Republicans (who were unanimous in opposing DRIC) – helped kill any vote for the project this year.

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