Detroit bridge would create 10,000 construction jobs

Canada offers $550 million to help finance the project.

Some 10,000 construction jobs hang in the balance as Michigan lawmakers determine whether to support construction of an international bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Canada.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood supports building the bridge, a $5.3 billion span across the Detroit River.

LaHood told reporters Monday that his department is waiting to see if the Michigan Legislature approves a measure allowing the state to enter into an agreement with Canada and a private developer to build a $5.3 billion span over the Detroit River

"We'll watch it and see what the legislature does," LaHood said. "We know how important this bridge is to our government and the Canadian government."

Canada has offered $550 million to help finance the project, which is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs.

The Legislature could vote on the proposal this week.

LaHood noted that since he took office, Michigan hasn't had "any money and now that the Canadians have stepped up and said they are going to help pay for this is quite extraordinary.

"It means a lot to the Canadian government to have this bridge," he said.

The move is opposed by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit International Bridge Co., who want to build another privately owned span.

LaHood said Detroit needs a new crossing.

"This is an important piece of infrastructure to continue the kind of relationship and friendship that we have had with Canada -- not only on trade but on our ability to be connected to that country," said LaHood, who has been working on the project since soon after he took office.

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau