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Wanted: Contractors To Build $2.1 Billion Detroit-Windsor Bridge

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) - A $2.1 billion bridge across the Detroit River between Canada and the U.S. moved from the drawing board to the contracting phase Monday.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority put out a "request for qualifications" for companies seeking roles in building the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Michigan. The bridge is named for Howe, a Floral, Saskatchewan-born ex-Detroit Red Wings star and hockey hall of famer.

The bridge is scheduled to open in 2020, providing a second highway link for heavy trucks at the busiest U.S.-Canada crossing point. Promoters say it will overcome the problem caused by congestion at the 85-year-old, privately owned Ambassador Bridge.

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, also 85 years old, is too narrow to accommodate heavy trucks.

Bridge authority Chairman Mark McQueen said in a statement that the announcement "presents yet another major milestone ... in this seminal project."

Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Tritt said the outreach to contractors "is much more than the first stage in the procurement process. ... It also demonstrates how Canada is working to strengthen its economy for the future."

Canada took the lead in financing and building the bridge because of repeated roadblocks to U.S. support for the projects. Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has heavily financed a campaign to block the bridge in favor of his preferred plan - building another span for his own bridge.

With U.S. financing stymied, U.S. and Canadian leaders agreed in 2012 that Canada would finance the project, with building costs recouped through tolls for using the bridge. This February, the two nations overcame the last barrier - Canadian funding also would cover the cost of a toll plaza on the U.S. side of the bridge.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who supports the bridge, called Monday's announcement "a major step in the process. ... This is a historic project that will continue Detroit's revitalization, strengthen the economy of Michigan and the region while creating thousands of jobs."

The Associated Press left a message Monday seeking comment from Moroun's company, the Detroit International Bridge Co. The company's website includes statements and videos criticizing the new crossing.

"The best outcome is to continue with the success that we as a region have had with southeastern Michigan border crossings for the last 80 years, especially with the Ambassador Bridge, where no taxpayer resources or government resources have been used whatsoever," company Vice Chairman Matthew Moroun said in a statement on the website.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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