Wooden planking is being installed under the span of the Ambassador Bridge after falling debris led to the closure of several streets in Windsor, Ontario, officials said Tuesday.
Multiple streets on the Canadian side of the busiest land border crossing in North America have been closed since Oct. 12. According to the CBC News, more than 7.1 million vehicles crossed the bridge – one of three international crossings connecting Windsor to Detroit – in 2014.
Officials for the privately owned, 86-year-old bridge said Tuesday that the planking was being installed as a precaution. According to The Detroit News, bridge officials said the city of Windsor has blown reports of falling debris “out of proportion.”
“They can’t have it both ways,” Dan Stamper, president of the Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns and operates the Ambassador Bridge, told the newspaper. “They complain that we have an 86-year-old bridge but then stand in the way of any improvements. We have installed a retention system under the bridge out of caution ... and to take away bullets people want to shoot us with.”
The news report claims the street closures are just the latest salvo in a three-sided battle between the bridge company, the city of Windsor and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
The bridge company has been attempting to construct a new bridge that would run parallel to the current span between southwest Detroit and downtown Windsor, going so far as to purchase land and homes and installing footings on the Canadian side.
But the efforts have been stymied on the U.S. side of the border, as the state of Michigan and the Canadian governments plan to build a new, multibillion-dollar span. Dubbed the Gordie Howe International Bridge, it would be two miles down the Detroit River – from Delray, Mich., into the industrial part of Windsor. Snyder has worked out an agreement with Canadian authorities to fund construction via tolls collected on the Canadian side.
The bridge company, which is owned by Detroit businessman Manuel “Matty” Moroun, received a boost to its efforts to secure permits for building its replacement span earlier this month, when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ordered the Coast Guard to either grant the company a building permit by Jan. 4, or explain in detail the reason for the denial.
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